Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY.) said Monday that if the Republican Party regains control of the Senate in 2022, it is "highly unlikely" that he would allow President Joe Biden to confirm a Supreme Court vacancy if one were to open up in 2024.
McConnell said on the Hugh Hewitt radio program, according to CNN, that a Senate controlled by one party would not confirm a Supreme Court justice nomination by a president of the opposing party.
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. So I think it's highly unlikely. In fact, no, I don't think either party if it controlled, if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election. What was different in 2020 was we were of the same party as the president.
McConnell was criticized by Democrats in 2020 when Republicans confirmed Amy Coney Barrett, former President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, ahead of the presidential election.
This comes as progressives seek to pressure Justice Stephen Breyer into retirement to ensure Biden nominates a replacement to the high court. Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Mondaire Jones of New York both signaled that they were in favor of Breyer stepping down so a liberal justice could take his place, avoiding a repeat of 2020 when Trump nominated Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg following her death.
Ocasio-Cortez told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" Sunday that she "would probably lean towards yes," when asked if she thinks Breyer should retire at the end of this Supreme Court term.
In April, Jones said that "there’s no question" that Breyer should retire.
My goodness, have we not learned our lesson?
McConnell and Senate Republicans did not consider former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, because it was an election year.