COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - In the homestretch of a tight race to keep his Senate seat, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), will play a key role in what is gearing up to be a highly partisan fight: the nomination of Supreme Court Justice to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The day after the news of Ginsburg’s death broke, the Senator tweeted he is “dead set” on confirming whoever President Trump nominates for the seat. And as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the group of senators traditionally responsible for questioning nominees and referring them to the full Senate, Graham has a lot of influence in the process.
However, Graham’s opponents say his support for the President now is evidence he is going back on his word.
On March 10, 2016, Graham said, “I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination, and you could use my words against me and you’d be absolutely right. We’re setting a precedent here today.”
Graham echoed a similar sentiment two years later at an event in Washington, DC.
“If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term and the primary process has started, we’ll wait until the next election,” Graham said in 2018. When reminded by the moderator that he is on the record, Graham replied, “Yeah. Hold the tape.”
This year, when asked by Gray TV’s Chief Political Analyst Greta Van Susteren about what he would do if there were a vacancy on the court, Graham said the circumstances have changed between now and when Republicans blocked President Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Scalia from getting a hearing in 2016.
“Well, Merrick Garland was a different situation. You had the president of one party nominating and you had the Senate in the hands of the other party. A situation where you’ve got them both would be different. I don’t want to speculate, but I think appointing judges is a high priority for me in 2020,” he said.
This argument along with Graham blaming Democrats for, “the two biggest changes regarding the Senate and judicial confirmations that have occurred in the last decade,” is why he is supporting the President moving forward with a nomination during the last stretch of an election.
Graham tweeted that the changes he is referring to include Democrats in the Senate making it easier to confirm all judges except for Supreme Court nominees,
And, Democratic senators' attacks on Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings.
Graham’s opponent in the race for the Senate, Jaime Harrison, said the Senator is flip-flopping and lying to his constituents.
“In essence his word means nothing and that means Lindsey Graham means nothing. He gave his word to the people of South Carolina and he is trampling all over that,” Harrison told CNN.
President Trump has said he plans to announce his nomination for the seat sometime this week.
To confirm the President’s pick, 51 senators will need to vote in favor of the nominee. This means, if Democrats want to stall this nomination, four Republicans need to vote against the nominee.
So far, Republican Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski have said they would wait on nominated a Justice until the election.