Lisa Murkowski became the second US Republican Senator to oppose voting on a nominee to replace late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the November 3 presidential election.
“For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election,” the Alaska Senator said in a statement on Sunday.
“Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed,” Xinhua news agency quoted Murkowski as saying.
The Senator said she did not support a Senate vote on then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, to replace late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a Republican appointee, months before the 2016 election.
“We are now even closer to the 2020 election – less than two months out – and I believe the same standard must apply.”
Prior to Murkowski, Susan Collins, Republican senator of Maine, said on Saturday that given the proximity of the presidential election and due to concerns over “fairness for the American people”, she believed the Senate should not vote on a nominee before the election.
“The decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd,” Collins added.
Senate Republicans, who hold a 53-47 majority in the chamber, can only afford a total of three defections within their party for a Trump nominee to be approved.
Following the passing of Ginsburg on September 18 due to pancreatic cancer, Democrats maintained that a nominee be tapped by the next president, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said a justice nominated by President Donald Trump will get a vote in the Senate.
The day after her death, Trump urged Republicans in a tweet to confirm his nomination “without delay”, later telling reporters that he will “most likely” announce a female nominee “next week”.
Also on Sunday, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden slammed Trump’s remarks, saying the move to pick a new Justice before the election was an “abuse of power”.
During a speech at the Constitutional Center in Philadelphia on Sunday, Biden said the President had “made clear this is about power, pure and simple”, the BBC reported.