Senate Republicans Dial Down Rhetoric After Sen. Graham’s Supreme Court Warning

Senate Republicans Dial Down Rhetoric After Sen. Graham's Supreme Court Warning Senate Republicans Dial Down Rhetoric After Sen. Graham's Supreme Court Warning Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee business meeting to vote on Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Win McNamee/Getty Images).

By Jason Clemons | Tuesday, 05 April 2022 07:51 PM

Senate Republicans on Tuesday opted not to double down on Lindsey Graham's viral criticism of the confirmation process involving Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court bid from the previous day.

Instead, they invoked a wait-and-see approach for what lies ahead with future Supreme Court judicial reviews, particularly if Republicans reclaim control of the Senate in this fall's midterm elections.

"I'm not going to go forward with any prediction on what our strategy might be should we become the majority," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., when broached on the hypothetical notion of filling a Supreme Court seat in either 2023 or 2024.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a McConnell ally, echoed a similar sentiment when asked about handling Supreme Court vacancies over the next 24 months, according to The Hill.

"I think we just have to see what the circumstances are," said Cornyn.

And then came the pragmatic words of Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo: "I imagine (filling any potential Supreme Court vacancies in 2023) would be a moot point if we're not in the majority."

All together, the Republicans' rhetoric from Tuesday was more calculated than what Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., brought to Monday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

"If we get back the Senate and we're in charge of this body, and there is judicial openings, we will talk to our colleagues on the other side. But if we were in charge, [Judge Jackson] would not have been before this committee. You would have had somebody more moderate than this," said Graham.

President Joe Biden nominated Jackson to fill the Supreme Court vacancy of outgoing Justice Stephen Breyer. On Monday, there were reports that — despite the dissenting opinions of some Republicans — she could be confirmed by the Senate as early as this week.

In 2016, Republicans refused Merrick Garland's Supreme Court nomination, citing the decades-long tradition of not politicizing the commander-in-chief's Supreme Court selection during presidential-election years — when the White House and Senate are not controlled by the same party.

A year later, Republicans voted to drop the 60-vote requirement for all Supreme Court nominees, essentially following the 2013 methodology of former Senate majority leader, the late Harry Reid, D-Nev., after that year's Democrat-controlled majority got rid of the 60-vote requirement for lower-court judicial nominees.

By today's Senate rules, a simple 51-vote yes majority would get Judge Jackson confirmed into the Supreme Court.


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