McConnell suggests a GOP-held Senate would block a Biden Supreme Court nominee — no matter the timing

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in an interview Monday said that should Republicans regain the majority in the Senate in 2022, they would likely block a Supreme Court vacancy from being filled in 2024 — and potentially earlier.

McConnell spoke with Hugh Hewitt on Monday and was asked if Senate Republicans would block President Biden from filling a Supreme Court vacancy in 2024 should there be one during that election year and should Republicans be in the majority. The Republican leader said the party likely wouldn't allow him to fill the seat in that scenario.

"I think in the middle of a presidential election, if you have a Senate of the opposite party of the president, you have to go back to the 1880s to find the last time a vacancy was filled," McConnell said. "So I think it's highly unlikely. In fact, no, I don't think either party … if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election."

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Republicans previously blocked former President Barack Obama from filling a Supreme Court vacancy in 2016, an election year, but went on to fill a vacancy on the court in another election year, 2020. McConnell has argued, as he did on Monday, that the difference was that in the latter case, "we were of the same party as the president."

But then asked in the interview whether Republicans would allow Biden to fill an earlier vacancy should a Supreme Court justice retire at the end of the 2023 term, McConnell suggested it's possible they wouldn't do so then either, saying, "Well, we'd have to wait and see what happens."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.