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Cotton Says GOP Will Refrain from Launching 'Grotesque Smear Campaigns' Against SCOTUS Nominee

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R) said Sunday that Republicans will not launch the same kind of "grotesque smear campaigns" against President Joe Biden's Supreme Court nominee that Democrats did when conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh were selected in the past.

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"I suspect we'll all keep an open mind. We will review the nominee on her merits. I can't say that I've got wild expectations that Joe Biden is going to nominate someone who I think I can support or many Republicans can support, because I've seen dozens of his nominees to the lower courts, and they've almost, to a person, been left-wing ideologues who think judges should make the law, rather than apply and uphold the Constitution and the laws as they are passed," Cotton said during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."

"I can say one thing that I won't do, and I doubt any Republican will do, is engage in the kind of grotesque smear campaigns against the character of fine men like Clarence Thomas, stories we saw like what happened with Brett Kavanaugh two years ago," he continued. "We'll give a thorough vetting into any nominee's legal philosophies, as well as their career, and their character and their temperament."

Cotton, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, added that Republicans are "not going to do what Democrats do, which is simply make up smears against a nominee."

During his nomination process in 2018, Kavanaugh was grilled by Democrats like then-Sen. Kamala Harris amid baseless sexual assault accusations from Christine Blasey Ford. Kavanaugh denied the allegations.

And during Thomas' 1991 confirmation process, when Biden was the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, the conservative justice slammed Democrats for what he saw as a "high-tech lynching for uppity blacks." Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court by a 52 to 48 vote.

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Thomas later criticized Democrats for the handling of his confirmation process, saying in the 2020 documentary, "Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words," that he had gone through life believing the "problematic" people were "the bigot in the pickup truck," "the Klansmen" or "the rural sheriff." 

"But it turned out that through all of that, ultimately the biggest impediment was the modern-day liberal," he said in the film. "They were the ones who would discount all those things because they have one issue or because they have the power to caricature you."

Biden said during a February 2020 Democratic primary debate that he would nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court if given the opportunity to fill a seat. And after Associate Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced last week his plans to retire, the president reaffirmed his promise to do just that.

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