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McConnell suggests he’d block a 2024 Biden Supreme Court pick

WASHINGTON — Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said it’s “highly unlikely” he’d let President Joe Biden fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2024 if Republicans retake control of the chamber next year.

McConnell indicated he’d apply the same rationale as he did when Republicans blocked President Barack Obama’s pick of Merrick Garland in 2016 — that a court vacancy shouldn’t be filled in an election year when control of the Senate and the White House is split between the two parties.

In an interview on Hugh Hewitt’s syndicated radio show Monday, McConnell said blocking Garland and thus clearing the way for former President Donald Trump to nominate Justice Neil Gorsuch was “the single most consequential thing I’ve done in my time as majority leader of the Senate.”

There has been intense speculation about the possible retirement of the oldest justice on the court, Stephen Breyer, 82, who usually sides with the court’s liberal wing. Progressive groups have been urging him to step down this year, while Democrats control both the House and Senate. Next year’s midterm election could flip control in Congress.

The Supreme Court, which will consider rolling back abortion rights and bolstering the Second Amendment in its 2021-22 term, now has a 6-3 conservative majority.

McConnell refused to say if he would try to thwart a Biden nominee should a vacancy on the high court occur in 2023 with a GOP Senate. “We’d have to wait and see what happens,” McConnell said.

When liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died late last year, the Republican-controlled Senate quickly confirmed Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett despite the fact it was an election year.

“I don’t think either party if it were different from the president would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election,” the Kentucky Republican said. “What was different in 2020 was we were of the same party as the president.”

 

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