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Here Are All The Senators — From Both Parties — Who Flipped On Election-Year SCOTUS Confirmations

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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Since the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, elected officials on both sides of the aisle have been running from their 2016 positions regarding election-year confirmations.

Within hours of Ginsburg’s passing from metastatic pancreatic cancer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his intent to make sure that any nominee President Donald Trump put forward to fill the late justice’s seat would get a vote in the Senate. (RELATED: ‘McConnell Is An Absolute Gangster’: Meghan McCain Says Republicans Should Replace RBG, But Beware)

Critics immediately began to call McConnell a hypocrite, citing his refusal to consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland in 2016. Garland was nominated in March to fill the vacancy left when Justice Antonin Scalia passed away.

But McConnell was not the only one to change his position on the issue of election-year confirmations. Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham announced his plan to move forward despite previously saying that anyone who liked could use his words against him if he did so. (RELATED: ‘You Reap What You Sow’: Lindsey Graham Invokes Kavanaugh, Doubles Down On Filling Supreme Court Seat)

Graham said that the 2018 confirmation battle to seat Justice Brett Kavanaugh had soured him on giving Senate Democrats the benefit of the doubt, adding, “You reap what you sow.”

Media outlets and political opponents alike quickly put together reels of Republicans reversing themselves on the issue at hand.

But as former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer noticed, few of those accusing Republicans of changing their positions even acknowledged the fact that a number of Democrats had also reversed themselves — just in the opposite direction.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in 2016 — about Senate Republicans: “They have a constitutional obligation to hold hearings, conduct a full confirmation process, and vote on the nominee based on his or her merits.”

Schumer has since changed his tune.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was running for president at the time, wanted the Senate to go ahead with a hearing in 2016.

Her position in 2020 is a complete reversal.

Democratic president nominee Joe Biden said in 2016, “Deciding in advance simply to turn your back before the president even names a nominee is not an option the Constitution leaves open,” Biden said, according to Business Insider. “It’s a plain abdication from the Senate’s duty.”

Biden’s position has also changed dramatically.

Both parties have offered explanations for those changes, however.

Republicans have cited historical precedent, noting that since the 1880s judicial nominees have been confirmed when the same party controlled both the White House and the Senate. They have also floated the possibility of a contested election, which would be all the more complicated if the court split 4-4.

Democrats have argued that despite past instances when new justices were confirmed in election years, this particular vacancy happened too close to the coming election for the Senate to give such hearings proper attention.

Republicans responded to that concern by pointing out the fact that Justice John Paul Stevens was confirmed in just 19 days.