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Friday, January 27, 2023
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Romney OKs Voting on Court Nominee; All but Assures Approval

'If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications...'

(Headline USA) Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah said Tuesday he supports voting to fill the Supreme Court seat formerly held by late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, all but ensuring President Donald Trump has the backing to push his choice to confirmation over Democratic objections that it’s too close to the November election.

Romney told reporters that it is not “written in the stars” that the court will have a liberal bent and that with Trump’s nominee — still to be announced — it will become more conservative. The malleability of Chief Justice John Roberts lends credence to that view.

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and the Democrats would need four GOP defections to block consideration. Two Republicans have said they oppose taking up a nomination at this time, but no others are in sight.

“If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications,” Romney said.

Even if he and the other two should eventually vote against Trump’s nominee, Vice President Mike Pence could break a 50-50 tie in Trump’s favor.

Trump is planning to announce his choice to replace the late Ginsburg on Saturday, setting off a quick confirmation process, with early voting for the presidential election is already underway in several states.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to provide scheduling information as he opened the chamber Tuesday, but he is set to meet privately with GOP senators at their campaign headquarters to assess next steps.

Conservative senators are pushing for a swift vote before Nov. 3. The Senate Judiciary chairman who will shepherd the nomination through the chamber said Republicans have the support they need for confirmation.

“The nominee is going to be supported by every Republican in the Judiciary Committee,” Chairman Lindsey Graham told Fox News late Monday. “We’ve got the votes to confirm the justice on the floor of the Senate before the election and that’s what’s coming.”

The president met with conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett at the White House on Monday and told reporters he would interview other candidates and might meet with Judge Barbara Lagoa when he travels to Florida later this week. Conversations in the White House and in McConnell’s office have increasingly focused on Barrett and Lagoa, according to a person the Associated Press says they granted anonymity to discuss the private deliberations.

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the chamber and can confirm a justice by a simple majority.

Romney would not say whether he supports Barrett or any particular candidate. But he acknowledged the court will shift to become more conservative.

“I recognize that we, we may have a court which has more of a conservative bent than it’s had over the last few decades,” Romney told reporters on Capitol Hill. “But my liberal friends have over many decades gotten very used to the idea of having a liberal court. And that’s not written in the stars.”

Democrats point, without evidence, to “hypocrisy” in Republicans trying to rush through a pick so close to the election after McConnell led the GOP in refusing to vote on a nominee of President Barack Obama in February 2016, long before that year’s election.

Romney dismissed that argument, saying “it was not unfair” of Republicans to refuse to consider Obama’s choice of Merrick Garland.

Barrett has long been favored by conservatives, and those familiar with the process said interest inside the White House seemed to be waning for Lagoa amid concerns by some that she did not have a proven record as a conservative jurist. Lagoa has been pushed by some aides who tout her political advantages of being Hispanic and hailing from the key political battleground state of Florida.

Four Republicans could halt a quick confirmation and Trump criticized Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska for opposing a vote before elections. The president warned they would be “very badly hurt” by voters.

Others, including GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Cory Gardner of Colorado, declined to join in opposing the president’s plan.

Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.

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