‘We’re going to fill it’: Republicans ready for any Supreme Court vacancy

GOP senators denied Obama a seat on the high court. They’ll deliver for Trump.

Senate Republicans are quietly beginning to contemplate the possibility of an election-year confirmation battle for the Supreme Court.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s hospitalization this week and the looming end of the Supreme Court’s term raise the prospect of yet another prized vacancy for President Donald Trump. And if there is a surprise opening or retirement in the months before the presidential election, GOP senators plan to act on it, despite denying President Barack Obama a Supreme Court seat in an election year.

John Cornyn

Sen. John Cornyn. | Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Republicans say they wish Ginsburg a swift recovery and have no inside knowledge of a retirement but are prepared to move if a vacancy presents itself.

“We’re going to fill it” if there is one, said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the No. 3 GOP leader. “With Justice Scalia … people might not have thought he was the one, because he wasn’t the oldest at the time. You just never know.”

So in what’s already been the most consequential year for politics in a generation, with a presidential impeachment and a rampaging pandemic, Capitol Hill could get significantly crazier.

“If you thought the Kavanaugh hearing was contentious this would probably be that on steroids,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “Nevertheless, if the president makes a nomination then it’s our responsibility to take it up.”

While no one says they expect a Supreme Court vacancy, GOP senators also acknowledge it’s plausible that Trump could find himself with a third nominee. And one thing is clear: Most Republicans have no qualms about approving a Supreme Court pick from a president in their own party, even if it is an election year.

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