Former President Bill Clinton accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans who want to fill the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat of being “superficially hypocritical” during a Sunday morning appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
President Donald Trump intends this week to nominate someone to fill the the vacancy left by Ginsburg, who passed away Friday after battling metastatic pancreatic cancer, and McConnell has indicated he would bring a nominee to a vote, although it isn’t clear if he will have enough GOP caucus support to confirm.
Clinton hearkened to the battle over the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat in 2016 to criticize Republicans today.
“Well, of course it’s superficially hypocritical, isn’t it?” Clinton told CNN anchor Jake Tapper. “I mean, Mitch McConnell wouldn’t give President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland a hearing 10 months before the presidential election. And that meant that we went a long time with eight judges on the court.”
“This is what they do,” he continued. “They vote for Senator McConnell and President Trump. Their first value is power and they’re trying to jam the court with as many ideological judges as they can.”
Clinton said there is “a case to be made” for McConnell’s argument four years ago, “that in the middle of a presidential season you should give voters a say.”
“That’s what he said when it was 10 months away,” Clinton said. “But when the shoe’s on the other foot and he wants the judge, we’re fewer than 50 days away and that argument doesn’t cut any mustard.”
“I don’t know what’s happened to make him stop trusting the American people, but apparently when it’s to his advantage, the people are not entitled to a say,” he continued. “So it is what it is. It’s politics. But I think we should remember that.” (RELATED: Ginsburg In 2016: ‘Nothing In The Constitution’ Prevents Final Year SCOTUS Picks)
Republicans counter that argument by citing the fact that the White House and the Senate were split in 2016, while Republicans control both right now.
Clinton ended the segment by responding to a question from Tapper about Democrats potentially responding by packing the Supreme Court.
“Well, the Constitution doesn’t proscribe a fixed number of judges to the Supreme Court,” he said. “The last time it was tried, it didn’t work out so well when Roosevelt was president. But I think — my view is, first, I’m not in politics anymore, I’m going to let somebody else debate that. But secondly, let’s try to do this right now. We are really close to the election.”