With the announcement of the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) has a decision to make.
Just last month, she told The Hill that she would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee by President Trump in the final months before a national election.
While the president has maintained an extensive list of solidly pro-life judges which he is prepared to nominate, Murkowski stance is that voting for a Trump nominee would create a “double standard” given that Republicans declined to approve President Obama’s nominee for the high court, Merrick Garland, in the lead up to the 2016 election.
Republicans currently control 53 Senate seats and enjoy a narrow majority.
“When Republicans held off Merrick Garland it was because nine months prior to the election was too close, we needed to let people decide,” she said. “And I agreed to do that. If we now say that months prior to the election is OK when nine months was not, that is a double standard and I don’t believe we should do it,” she added. “So, I would not support it.”
Ginsburg died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 87. During her time on the court she was one of the most pro-abortion justices in history. Among her many pro-abortion opinions, she voted against a law banning partial birth abortion. She was also a staunch supporter of so-called same sex “marriage.”
There is now widespread expectation that Trump will nominate a pro-life justice to replace her. His first two appointments to the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Judge Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 are both generally considered to be pro-life justices.
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Republicans currently maintain a slim majority in the Senate. According to The Hill, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnel, R-Ky., has indicated he would try to fill any vacancies on the high court in 2020. With only 53 Republicans, however, there is little room for defectors. If just three Republicans oppose Trump’s nominee, Vice President Mike Pence would need to break a 50-50 tie to confirm a judge.
Murkowski has not been a reliable vote in confirming President Trump’s nominees for the Supreme Court. In 2018 she broke with fellow Republicans and refused to support Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment.
Murkowski also has a history of breaking with her party on the abortion issue, a stance that has drawn praise from Planned Parenthood. Earlier this year, she voted against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which aimed to ban abortions after 20 weeks.