Lindsey Graham: ‘There is nothing unconstitutional about this process’
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee who finds himself locked in an unexpectedly close re-election battle, kicked off the hearing by addressing the coronavirus crisis.
Graham recalled how Ginsburg was confirmed 96-3 by the United States Senate in 1993 and expressed regret that “those are days that have since passed,” referring to the overwhelmingly bipartisan support she received despite her well-established liberal point of view.
“I just want to remind everybody there was a time in this country where someone like Ruth Bader Ginsburg was seen by almost everybody as qualified for the position of being on the Supreme Court, understanding that she would have a different philosophy than many of the Republicans who voted for her.”
After reviewing the highlights of Barrett’s legal career and biography, Graham noted that “we’re confirming a judge in an election year after the voting has occurred.” He acknowledged that no Supreme Court nominee has been confirmed past July in an election year before invoking a quote from Ginsburg to make the case for confirming Barrett so close to the 2020 presidential election.
“Justice Ginsburg, when asked about this several years ago, said that a president serves for four years, not three,” Graham said. “There is nothing unconstitutional about this process. This is a vacancy that has occurred through a tragic loss of a great woman and we’re going to fill that vacancy with another great woman.”
Graham also addressed the allegations of hypocrisy raised by Democrats surrounding Senate Republicans’ refusal to hold confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland, who then-President Barack Obama nominated to the Supreme Court in 2016, an election year: “There’s never been a situation where you had a president of one party and the Senate of another where the nominee of the replacement was made in an election year” in more than 100 years.
“I think there have been 19 vacancies filled in an election year. Seventeen of the 19 were confirmed to the court when the party of the president and the Senate were the same,” he added.
Graham concluded his remarks by lamenting the treatment of previous Supreme Court nominees Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Kavanaugh and expressing his wish that “we don’t take that path with Judge Barrett.”
“This is going to be a long, contentious week,” he predicted. “I would just ask one thing of the committee: To the extent possible, let’s make it respectful, let’s make it challenging, let’s remember the world is watching.”