Should the Senate Confirm a Supreme Court Nominee during a Presidential Election Year?

On September 18, 2020, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away leaving the Court with a vacancy before the start of the 2020-2021 Supreme Court session and election day on November 3. With President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announcing that they would start the process of nominating and confirming a new Supreme Court Justice as soon as possible, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Senate Democrats argued that the winner of the 2020 election should choose the replacement.

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  • Democrats claim Sen. McConnell is going back on his word when four years ago, he refused to consider then-President Barack Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court 10 months before the 2016 election occurred following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. At the time, McConnell said: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
  • Republicans have a majority to approve the nomination if they vote along party lines.
  • Is there enough time to adequately vet nominee Amy Coney Barrett before the election?
  • Some Democrats are saying if the Senate moves forward with the confirmation, when and if the Senate has a Democrat majority, along with a majority in the House of Representatives, and if Joe Biden wins, they plan to expand the number of seats on the Supreme Court to 15 (from the current 9) and  add six new judges shifting the ideology of the court from conservative to liberal.

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