WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not ruling out a third Supreme Court seat being filled by President Donald Trump – even if a vacancy does not open up until 2020.
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace expressed surprise that McConnell would allow a 2020 nomination to go through because the Republican leader refused to consider President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, after former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016. At the time, McConnell argued that the vacancy should not be filled in an election year.
But when asked on Sunday, McConnell pointed to history and precedent.
"Maybe I have this wrong, but when you blocked Merrick Garland's nomination from President Obama you basically said we don't do this in a presidential election year and that we wait until the election," Wallace said. "But what you just said now was it's a question of whether or not the party in control of the Senate is different from the president."
"What I told you is what the history of the Senate has been," McConnell replied. "You have to go back to 1880 to find the last time a vacancy created in a presidential election year, on the Supreme Court, was confirmed by a Senate of a different party than the president."
Wallace pressed McConnell to explicitly say whether or not he would go forward with a Trump nomination in 2020.
"We'll see whether there's a vacancy in 2020," McConnell said.
Republican President Rutherford Hayes' nominee William Woods was confirmed 39-8 by a Democrat-controlled Senate in 1880. Although 1880 was an election year, Woods was not nominated until December, after the election.