Saying the precedent is "clear," "very clear" and "couldn't be clearer," Sen. Rob Portman told reporters today that his dedication to a vote on President Trump's impending nominee to fill a Supreme Court seat, who will be announced a mere 40 or so days before the election, in no way contradicts his 2016 stance arguing that new appointments during a contentious election year should wait while American voters get a say in the outcome.
That abundantly clear precedent that couldn't be clearer means Portman's current views in no way represent a hypocritical break with his widely disseminated thoughts on a similar situation four years ago because those were in the context of a divided government, as opposed to having a Senate and Presidency ruled by one party.
"The people have spoken," Portman said, arguing that Trump's election and the Republican Senate majority mean they should take up a vote on behalf of the will of those voters. (Trump, of course, lost the popular vote and since then Democrats made major gains in the House in the midterm elections.)
Portman, who sounded confused as to why All Of This has become an issue, quoted his colleague Lamar Alexander a couple of times, reiterating that, "No one should be surprised by this."
And, folks, he's right on that account.
His argument on precedent today was mainly repeated from his statement issued over the weekend, which you can read in full below.
"In the more than two dozen vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court during a presidential election year in our nation’s history, the sitting president made a nomination in every single case. Leader McConnell has said that he will hold a vote on any nominee President Trump sends to the Senate, and I intend to fulfill my role as a U.S. Senator and judge that nominee based on his or her merits. The president was elected in 2016, in part, based on a commitment to nominate men and women to the judiciary who would fairly and impartially apply the law and protect the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, not advance public policy goals by legislating from the bench. Likewise, in both 2016 and 2018, the American people have re-elected a Republican Senate majority to help President Trump fulfill that commitment.
“In 2016, when the vacancy occurred following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, I said ‘the president has every right to nominate a Supreme Court justice … But the founders also gave the Senate the exclusive right to decide whether to move forward on that nominee.’ Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposing-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year. In contrast, when the presidency and the Senate are controlled by the same party, the precedent is for the president’s nominees to get confirmed. In the 19 occasions that a vacancy has occurred when the President and the Senate are of the same party, the Senate has confirmed the nominee and filled the seat in every instance but one. I look forward to seeing who President Trump plans to nominate and thoroughly assessing his or her qualifications for this important role.”