Romney Gives Trump The Vote Needed to Fill RBG's SCOTUS Seat

Utah Senator Mitt Romney said he would support a Senate vote on President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nomination, handing the Trump the Republican majority needed to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's vacancy.

"I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the president's nominee. If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications," Romney said in a statement on Tuesday.

"My decision regarding a Supreme Court nomination is not the result of a subjective test of 'fairness' which, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is based on the immutable fairness of following the law, which in this case is the constitution and precedent," he said. "The historical precedent of election year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party's nominee but does confirm a nominee of its own."

In 2016, Senate Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nomination for Justice Antonin Scalia's replacement almost 270 days before Election Day.

"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in 2016. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."

Mitt Romney
Senator Mitt Romney testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing in Washington, DC on 30 July 2020. Romney said on Tuesday he would support a vote on a Supreme Court nominee ahead of the election. Greg Nash/AFP

Two Senate Republicans, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, had asked to hold the confirmation until after the election. With a 53-seat majority, the party needs at least three dissenters to stop McConnell from bringing a vote to the floor.

Many had been hopeful that Romney would be the third Republican to support delaying the nomination. In February, the Utah senator was the only Republican to vote for Trump's removal from Oval Office following his impeachment trial.

Ginsburg's death has opened up a political debate as to whether Trump should nominate her replacement or if the nomination should be left up to the winner of November's presidential election. Her September 18 death came 46 days before Election Day.

Trump, who has said Ginsburg's seat should be filled "without delay," is expected to select his nominee on Saturday, according to the White House's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Romney's announcement leaves Democrats with no shot of stopping the nomination, which once confirmed, will give the GOP a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

Newsweek reached out to the Democratic Party for comment but did not hear back before publication.

This story has been updated with additional information and background.