Speed Reads

Divided government

McConnell scapegoats Biden in defense of his SCOTUS comments

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stands by comments made Monday in which he suggested the GOP would likely block a Supreme Court vacancy from being filled in 2024 (or earlier), should Republicans take control of the Senate in 2022. 

When asked by CNN's Manu Raju on Tuesday to clarify his remarks, McConnell doubled down on the rationale he used to stifle the confirmation of Attorney General Merrick Garland in 2016, adding he's confident Democrats would do the same if roles were reversed. 

"What I said yesterday ... is simply to repeat the position I took in 2016," McConnell said. "I'm absolutely confident if the shoe had been on the other foot, the other side would've done exactly the same thing."

McConnell blocked the nomination of former President Barack Obama-nominee Garland in 2016, but not that of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in 2020, arguing election-year appointments are permissible so long as the Senate is held by the "same party as the president.

In his response to Raju, McConnell made sure to highlight again that, in the case of "divided government," there has "not been a nominee confirmed by a Senate of a different party than the president since the 1880s." He even went so far as to mention an instance in 1992 where President Biden, then a Delaware senator and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee had said "had a [Supreme Court] vacancy occurred, [the committee] would not fill it."

Watch McConnell's remarks below: