Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed the controversy around President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Senate Republicans’ push to confirm the nomination.
“There's nothing unconstitutional about this process. This is a vacancy that's occurred through a tragic loss of a great woman, and we're going to fill that vacancy with another great woman. The bottom line here is that the Senate is doing its duty constitutionally,” he said.
Remember: In 2016, when former President Barack Obama nominated judge Merrick Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Sen. Graham was opposed to holding a confirmation hearing.
At the time, he had said:
"I want you to use my words against me," Graham said at the time. "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.'"
Sen. Graham anticipated and addressed this record in his opening statement at Barrett’s hearing:
“We can talk about history, but here's the history as I understand it. There's never been a situation where you had a president of one party and the senate of another, where the nominee, the replacement, was made in election year. It's been over 140 years ago. I think there have been 19 vacancies filled in an election year, 17 of the 19 were confirmed to the court when the party of the president and the senate were the same. In terms of timing, the hearing is starting 16 days after nomination. More than half of all Supreme Court hearings have been held within 16 days of the announcement of the nominee.”
He reiterated that he feels that this is being done “constitutionally” and he respects that the Democratic senators will have objections.
“The bottom line is I think it's important. This is a lifetime appointment. I would like the world and the country to know more about Judge Barrett. I'm proud of you. I'm proud of what you’ve accomplished and I think you're a great choice by the President.”
He also acknowledged that the confirmation votes will break out on partisan lines.
“This is probably not about persuading each other unless something really dramatic happens. All Republicans will vote yes, and all Democrats will vote no, and that will be the way the breakout of the vote," he said.