HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania’s Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, who endorsed waiting eight months until after the 2016 election to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, has not said whether he will support Senate consideration of a nominee in the weeks before November’s election.
Toomey remained silent Monday.
President Donald Trump said he is obligated to pick a nominee as soon as possible to replace the liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday, barely 40 days before voters pick between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, is pushing ahead with plans to begin the confirmation process, while Biden is appealing to GOP senators to delay the vote until after the election.
In a statement, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania cited McConnell’s stance in 2016, saying Ginsburg’s seat should not be filled until the presidential election concludes and the winner is sworn in to office.
In 2016, Toomey supported the decision to put off consideration of President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, nominated in March to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
At the time, Toomey said, “with the U.S. Supreme Court’s balance at stake, and with the presidential election fewer than eight months away, it is wise to give the American people a more direct voice in the selection and confirmation of the next justice.”
As a result, Trump made the pick.
In a 2016 interview with The Associated Press, Toomey said Obama “intends to change the balance of the court and I am not going to support him changing the balance of the court with nine months before an election, I’m not going to do that.”
In that interview, Toomey would not say whether he would apply the same election-year logic in a hypothetical situation where a Republican president sought to fill a vacancy or Obama sought to replace a liberal justice. He said he would address each situation as it arises.
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