Washington – President Donald Trump has not named a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement Wednesday, but that hasn’t stopped Sen. Chris Murphy from saying he’ll block the president’s pick.
Murphy said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., set a precedent when he refused to hold a confirmation hearing on Merrick Garland, President Obama’s choice to fill a Supreme Court seat because he said the appointment should wait until after the 2016 general elections.
“He should stick to the rule he set,” Murphy said. “Under the McConnell rule, the Senate shouldn’t consider any nominee for the Supreme Court until January, and I expect Republicans in the Senate to honor the rule they all agreed to just two short years ago.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal also said a vote on a new Supreme Court justice should be delayed.
“The American people shld have a voice,” Blumenthal tweeted. “A confirmation vote should take place after a new Congress is seated. My Republican colleagues shld follow their own precedent.”
Meanwhile, Murphy is tweeting solicitations for signatures on an online petition that says, “the U.S. Senate should not vote on ANY Donald Trump nomination to replace Justice Kennedy until the voters have had a chance to weigh in and a new Congress is sworn in.”
In a statement, Murphy said, “This is a red alert moment for the American people—we need all hands on deck to stop the Court from taking a vicious, anti-worker, anti-women, anti-LGBT, anti-civil rights turn.”
“If McConnell insists on starting proceedings on a radical Trump nominee, I will do everything in my power to stop him,” Murphy said.
But Democrats are defending more seats in the Senate than Republicans in November, and a new Senate may have an even larger GOP majority. In addition, McConnell last year made the confirmation of Supreme Court candidates opposed by Democrats much easier by eliminating the filibuster rules on nominees to the high court. Sixty votes are needed to overcome a filibuster.
Kennedy, 81, joined the Supreme Court in 1988 and cast a number of decisive swing vote, including one to uphold the basic underpinnings of Roe v. Wade, which guarantees a woman’s right to choose an abortion.
He has been its most important member for more than a decade. The White House has publicized a list of 25 pro-life state and federal judges who are possible replacements for Kennedy.
The leading contender is Brett Kavanaugh, a former Kennedy clerk who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. A Yale University graduate, Kavanaugh is also a graduate of Yale Law School.
He was the sole dissenter in an opinion last year upholding a lower court’s decision that blocked Anthem Inc’s bid to merge with Cigna.