NASHVILLE — All five Republican U.S. senators from Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama say they support President Donald Trump's plan to push through a GOP replacement for the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Democratic appointee Ruth Bader Ginsburg this year.
While Democrats are incensed over Trump's decision, citing the 2016 GOP-led Senate's refusal to act on then-President Barack Obama's nomination of Democrat Merrick Garland to the nation's highest court, Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said in a statement Sunday that "no one should be surprised that a Republican Senate majority would vote on a Republican President's Supreme Court nomination, even during a presidential election year."
The U.S. Constitution "gives senators the power to do it," said Alexander, who in 2016 opposed Garland's confirmation coming up for a vote.
"The voters who elected them expect it. Going back to George Washington, the Senate has confirmed many nominees to the Supreme Court during a presidential election year. It has refused to confirm several when the President and Senate majority were of different parties."
Alexander, a moderate who leaves office in January, said Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell "is only doing what Democrat leaders have said they would do if the shoe were on the other foot."
In March 2016, Alexander supported Senate inaction on the Garland nomination, saying, "This debate is not about Judge Garland. It's about whether to give the American people a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice."
This year, Alexander said, he will apply the same standard of "intelligence, character and temperament" he has brought to other nomination votes, including yes votes for Republicans as well as for Democrat and now-Justice Sonia Sotomayor, when it comes to voting on Ginsburg's replacement.
U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a tweet Friday night, "I look forward to @realDonaldTrump's nominee receiving a full vote on the Senate floor."
In a Sunday appearance on Fox News, Blackburn, who was elected to the Senate in 2018, said "I think it's important for us to realize that we are fighting the people who are wanting to pack the Supreme Court. This is their goal. So they're going to oppose everything that we do."
U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia, who as a then-candidate opposed Obama's effort to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia with Garland, said the "people of Georgia want a Supreme Court that applies the law, not makes the law. I am confident that President Trump will nominate another highly-qualified candidate who will strictly uphold the Constitution. Once the President announces a nomination, the United States Senate should begin the process that moves this to a full Senate vote."
U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, another Georgia Republican, tweeted that "our country's future is at stake & @realDonaldTrump has every right to pick a new justice before the election. I look forward to supporting a strict constructionist who will protect the right to life & safeguard our conservative values."
In Alabama, Al.com reported Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby said he backs an "expeditious" confirmation process for a candidate to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat left vacant by Ginsburg's death. In 2016, Shelby opposed the Garland nomination coming up for a vote, saying President Obama was "attempting to solidify his liberal agenda by drastically changing the direction of the Court for decades to come. This critical decision should be made after the upcoming presidential election so that the American people have a voice."
U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, an Alabama Democrat, denounced what he charged was a "political power play" by Republicans that dishonors Ginsburg's legacy and "distorts the Constitutional process," Al.com reported.
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