HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS/AP) — Pennsylvania’s Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey said Tuesday that he is on board with the Senate considering President Donald Trump’s forthcoming nominee to the Supreme Court right away, despite having endorsed waiting eight months until after the 2016 election to fill a vacancy under President Barack Obama. The difference now, Toomey said, is that the Senate and White House are controlled by the same party, so there is no reason now to wait until after the Nov. 3 election, just six weeks away.
“When divided government creates tension between the two organs responsible for filling a position on the Supreme Court, it is completely justifiable to leave open a vacancy until the voters have had a chance to speak. In 2016, the voters spoke by electing a Republican president and a Republican-controlled Senate. In 2018, the voters expanded the Republican majority in the Senate. Since the voters resolved the tension between the White House and the Senate, there is no reason to delay filling this vacancy,” Toomey said in a statement.
— Matt Petrillo (@MattPetrillo) September 22, 2020
Trump said he is obligated to pick a nominee as soon as possible to replace the liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday.
“I will evaluate President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg based on whether the nominee has the character, intellect, and experience needed to serve on our nation’s highest court. These are the same objective, non-partisan criteria that I have used to evaluate judicial nominees under both President Obama and President Trump,” Toomey said.
Democrats says Ginsburg’s seat should not be filled until after voters pick between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden and the winner is sworn in.
In 2016, Toomey supported the decision to put off consideration of Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, nominated in March to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Ultimately, Trump made the pick.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)