Republican North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis said Saturday that he would support whomever President Donald Trump nominates to the Supreme Court.
Tillis’s statement comes just over six weeks before the presidential election. A seat on the Supreme Court became vacant Friday evening when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of pancreatic cancer at age 87.
“There is a clear choice on the future of the Supreme Court between the well-qualified and conservative jurist President Trump will nominate and I will support, and the liberal activist Joe Biden will nominate and [Democratic senatorial nominee] Cal Cunningham will support, who will legislate radical, left-wing policies from the bench,” Tillis said. (RELATED: Past Presidents React To RBG’s Death)
Tillis also offered his condolences to Ginsburg’s family, and praised the late justice as a “pioneer who honorably served our nation for 27 years.”
“It’s a testament to Justice Ginsburg’s character that she developed strong friendships with her fellow justices who disagreed with her on fundamental issues before the court, including the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Susan and I send our deepest condolences to Justice Ginsburg’s family,” Tillis said.
Democrats have called on Senate Republicans to not hold a vote on Ginsburg’s successor until after the presidential inauguration in January, citing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to proceed with Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination in 2016 after insisting that President Barack Obama’s successor should fill the seat instead.
Thom Tillis statement says he will support President Trump’s SCOTUS nominee. pic.twitter.com/GBSkt0SqHO
— Niels Lesniewski (@nielslesniewski) September 19, 2020
“Four years ago, a Supreme Court vacancy arose under divided government and a lame-duck president as Americans were choosing his successor. Today, however, President Trump is again facing voters at the ballot box and North Carolinians will ultimately render their judgment on his presidency and how he chooses to fill the vacancy,” Tillis said. (RELATED: Here’s What Thom Tillis Said During The SCOTUS Nomination in 2016)
While Trump said Saturday that he would nominate a successor to Ginsburg’s seat “without delay,” it is unclear whether Senate Republicans will have the votes to successfully confirm Trump’s appointee.
Though the GOP holds a 53-47 majority in the Senate, Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine have said that they will not vote to confirm any appointee until after the inauguration, leaving just 51 possible GOP votes to confirm.
Other GOP senators, including Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have also previously said that they would wait to confirm a Supreme Court appointee in an election year, though it is unclear whether they will hold to that position. (RELATED: These Vulnerable Senators Risk Losing Their Seats, Costing The GOP The Majority)
Though it is unknown whether Tillis’s statement will help or harm his own reelection bid, he and Cunningham are neck-and-neck in one of the tightest Senate races in the country, with Cunningham leading by single digits, polls show.
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