Mitch McConnell Thinks Senate Has an 'Obligation Under the Constitution' to Advance Trump's SC Nominee

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday that the U.S. Senate had an "obligation" to fill the vacant U.S. Supreme Court left behind by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

McConnell said hours after Ginsburg's death on Friday that a nominee from President Donald Trump would receive confirmation hearings as quickly as possible. Some Democratic lawmakers said that filling the seat should wait until after the upcoming November election. Conservative justices currently hold a 5-3 majority on the Supreme Court.

"We have an obligation under the Constitution should we choose to take advantage of it with a president of the same party as the Senate to advance a nomination," McConnell said. "And we will certainly do that this year. This current senate, elected the last time in 2018, will be here until the end of the year and the president will be here until January 20th."

McConnell emphasized that filling the empty seat on the bench was "very likely to happen."

Although Republicans have a majority in the U.S. Senate, not all GOP senators believe a new justice should be chosen right away. Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said Sunday that she would not support undertaking the nomination process with fewer than two months left before the presidential election. Murkowski joined Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins who voiced her disapproval on Saturday for the vote.

"In fairness to the American people," Collins said in a statement, "who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd."

Collins said Tuesday that she would vote against any Supreme Court nominee presented to the Senate before Election Day. Senator Collins and some other lawmakers who have said the vote should not occur used McConnell's past actions as part of their reasoning.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that advancing the nomination for a new U.S. Supreme Court justice would happen "this year." Getty/Chip Somedevilla

In 2016, McConnell moved to block the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland. Judge Garland had been nominated by then-President Barack Obama to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. At the time, McConnell said "the American people should have a say in the court's direction." Scalia's vacant seat was kept open until after the election between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

After Trump's victory, his administration nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Garland's nomination never received a hearing on the Senate floor.

Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Saturday that if McConnell continues with his plan to advance a Trump nominee to the Supreme Court, then "nothing is off the table."

Newsweek reached out to Senator Schumer's office for comment.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during a Monday issue with MSNBC's Chris Hayes that the Republican Party's rush to fill the Supreme Court vacancy was "disrespectful."

"It's important to uphold the Constitution of the United States," Pelosi said. "It should be done with care, whoever the president is. So the hypocrisy of the Republicans on this is really not important in people's daily lives, but it is indicative that they don't keep their word."