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Sen. Mitt Romney, infamous for his long-running feud with President Donald Trump, said Tuesday he is not opposed to potentially voting on a successor to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the November election, eliciting tremendous pushback on social media.
The Utah Republican’s assurance comes amid questions over whether his opposition to Trump — he was the only GOP senator to vote to impeach the president — was going to lead him to come out in support of Democrats who are demanding the successor be named by the next president.
In an interview with reporters posted at The Hill, Romney pushed back on claims by some that the GOP-controlled Senate’s decision not to give advice and consent to President Obama’s third high court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, in 2016 — an election year — was somehow “unfair.”
“I don’t agree with that,” Romney — who was not in the Senate at the time — said. “I don’t know whether you think it was a good decision or not, but it wasn’t unfair because it was consistent with history. It was consistent with precedent. It was consistent with the Constitution.”
He added that the Senate’s inaction over the Garland nomination should not guide anyone’s decision regarding President Trump’s potential nominee.
“The Garland decision was consistent with history, the decision to proceed with the new nominee is also consistent with history and precedent, and that’s where I come out,” Romney continued.
Another GOP senator, Cory Gardner of Colorado, also announced Tuesday that he would be supporting the president’s nominee, believed to be one of two women — U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett, 48, and former U.S. District Judge Barbara Lagoa, the latter of whom was recently nominated to the Florida Supreme Court by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
NEW: Colorado GOP Sen. Cory Gardner announces he will vote to confirm Pres. Trump's Supreme Court nominee. pic.twitter.com/Y8FaPE1Hio
— Alex Salvi (@alexsalvinews) September 21, 2020
The president reportedly said in April 2019 he was “saving” Barrett to replace Ginsburg.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he will allow a vote on any nominee the president sends to the chamber for advice and consent. With the support of Romney and now of Gardner, Trump’s pick is virtually assured for a vote ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
Gardner’s decision was likely a political one, driven by his belief that coming out in support of the president’s nominee will help push him over the finish line as he faces a tight reelection race this year.
But it was Romney who drew the most ire online.
Cracks me up how so much of NeverTrump world holds up Mitt Romney as the ideal Republican. The kind of Republican we need once we can get rid of Trump.
Bullshit. Mitt showed again today how weak & spineless he is. He showed again today why Trump so easily took over the GOP.
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) September 22, 2020
Mitt Romney is worthless, and so is every other member of the Senate GOP. They serve Trump, NOT America.
— ReallyAmerican.com 🇺🇸 (@ReallyAmerican1) September 22, 2020
Mitt Romney likes all the policies Trump pushes, he just doesn't like how Trump sounds while doing it.
This is true of every elected Republican, except for the dumb ones who like the way Trump sounds while doing it.
— Elie Mystal (@ElieNYC) September 22, 2020
Mitt Romney: “Donald Trump is a phoney, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University."
Also Mitt Romney: “The Constitution gives the President the power to nominate and the Senate the authority to provide advice and consent on Supreme Court nominees.”
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) September 22, 2020
Mitt Romney MUST BE HELD PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE 4 NO HEALTHCARE,END OF
SOCIAL SECURITY,END OF ALL
REGULATIONS PROTECTING🇺🇸 & HER PPL,FOSSIL FUEL 4EVER,
FIRES IN CALIFORNIA, CAT, HURRICANES 1-5 NEW ORLEANS,VOTING RIGHTS. REPUBLICANS WILL ReDISTRICT🇺🇸SO A DEMOCRAT WILL NEVER WIN
— Cher (@cher) September 22, 2020
Mitt Romney just threw away any integrity he gained from his impeachment vote.
— Trish Zornio (@trish_zornio) September 22, 2020
Mitt Romney pondering standing up to Trump destroying the country, or getting another anti-abortion Justice pic.twitter.com/4e6WNObRV3
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 22, 2020
Shortly after news of Ginsburg’s death spread, Trump took to Twitter in an appeal to the Senate to take up and approve his eventual nominee ahead of the election. McConnell agreed to do that shortly thereafter.
Trump has said he will announce the new nominee at the White House on Saturday, after Ginsburg’s funeral.
If indeed the president selects Barrett, a constitutional originalist who clerked for another originalist, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, she could well serve for several decades and solidify Trump’s remaking of the high court in the founders’ image — which almost guarantees a rancorous confirmation battle with Democrats.
That said, in addition to political considerations, it’s likely the president is mindful that a full Supreme Court will be needed in the high likelihood that a number of issues will have to be resolved following the Nov. 3 election date.
In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity late Friday following news of Ginsburg’s passing, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Trump would need to name, and the Senate consent to, a successor ahead of election day because of reports that Democrats are planning a series of challenges to results.
“[O]ne reason in particular why I think it is tremendously important that not only does the nomination happen next week but that the confirmation happens before election day is because Democrats and Joe Biden have made clear they intend to challenge this election, they intend to fight the legitimacy of the election as you know,” Cruz said.
Late last month, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said in a clip of Showtime’s “The Circus” that was released current nominee Joe Biden should not “concede” to Trump.
“Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances,” she said. “Because I think this is going to drag out, and eventually, I do believe he will win, if we don’t give an inch and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is.”
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