Trump says he would fill Supreme Court vacancy before 2020 election — reversing his stance from 2016

By Jason Silverstein

/ CBS News

President Trump said Monday he would fill a Supreme Court vacancy if it came up before the 2020 election — a reversal on his stance from the 2016 race. This comes weeks after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky also appeared to change his mind and said that he, too, would fill a Supreme Court vacancy before the 2020 vote.

"Would I do that? Of course," Mr. Trump told The Hill in an interview when asked about filling a potential vacancy.

"If we could get him approved, I would definitely do it," he added. "No, I'd do it a lot sooner than that. I'd do it. If there were three days left, I'd put somebody up hoping that I could get 'em done in three days, OK?"

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A Supreme Court vacancy became one of the driving issues of the last presidential election after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the spot, but McConnell refused to even hold a hearing for justice, arguing that the decision should be made by the next president.

Mr. Trump agreed with McConnell, saying in a Republican debate, "I think it's up to Mitch McConnell and everybody else to stop it. It's called delay, delay, delay!"

Polling later showed that the vacancy was one of the top reasons Trump voters decided to support him. As president, Mr. Trump has appointed two conservative-leaning justices to the nation's highest court: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

McConnell said last month that he'd play by different rules for 2020. When asked at a luncheon what Republicans would do if a Supreme Court justice died next year, McConnell said with a grin, "Oh, we'd fill it."

First published on June 24, 2019 / 8:10 PM

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