Making sure to castigate the process that will result in the expected Monday confirmation vote of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska on Saturday said she will vote to confirm Barrett.
Republicans hold a 53-vote majority in the Senate. Republican Susan Collins of Maine has said she opposes filling the seat left open by the September death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seat until after the presidential election.
In 2016, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the Republican-controlled Senate did not act upon then-President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the court. Collins and Murkowski have indicated they believe that precedent should have precluded the Senate from considering a nomination this time around.
“I voted no on the motion to proceed yesterday because I have stated on multiple occasions since 2016 I do not believe the Senate should take up a Supreme Court nomination this close to a presidential election. I have been clear in that position throughout this process,” Murkowski said in a statement on her website. “With that vote, my view did not prevail, so the question now facing the Senate is whether Judge Amy Coney Barrett is qualified to serve on the highest court in the land.
“My constitutional responsibility is to now look beyond process and to vote based on a solid evaluation of her qualifications and fitness of judicial temperament.”
“I have reviewed Judge Barrett’s confirmation hearing and her writings. I also had a lengthy discussion with her this week to delve further into her record and views of jurisprudence. It is clear that she is qualified by any objective standard and has received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association,” Murkowski’s statement said.
“She has demonstrated a strong command of the law, intellect, discipline, and, ultimately, the capability to hold the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.”
However, Murkowski wanted to be sure her disapproval of the process of filling Ginsburg’s seat is duly noted.
“There will be at least one more procedural vote on Sunday, and I will once again object to advancing the nomination past cloture. Assuming that motion prevails, when we reach a final vote, I will vote to confirm Judge Barrett to serve on the Supreme Court,” she said.
During a speech from the Senate floor on Saturday, Murkowski said that “I just regret that we are in this place,” according to The Hill.
“I have looked inward, considering in these difficult days what I believe is best for the institutions of our government, and I recognize that confirming this nominee is not going to heal. It’s not going to salve the wounds that these institutions have endured,” Murkowski said.
“But neither will threats that should the balance of power in this chamber change everything is on the table,” Murkowski said, referring to talk among Democrats they might seek to “pack” the court by adding justices and abolish the filibuster if Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins the presidency and Democrats regain control of the
Senate in November’s elections.
In her floor speech, Murkowski was clear that despite reservations on the process, she was impressed with Barrett.
“I have no doubt about her intellect. I have no doubt about Judge Barrett’s judicial temperament. I have no doubt about her capability to do the job,” she said, according to The Hill. “I have concluded that she is the sort of person we want on the Supreme Court.”
But she also made her unhappiness with the situation clear.
“I do not believe that moving forward on a nominee just over a week removed from a pitched presidential election when partisan tensions are running about as high as they could … will help our country become a better version of itself,” Murkowski said, according to The Hill. “Frankly, I’ve lost that procedural fight.
“I believe that the only way to put us back on the path of appropriate consideration of judicial nominees is to evaluate Judge Barrett as we would want to be judged, on the merits of her qualifications. And so when we do that, when that final question comes before us … I will be a yes,” Murkowski said.
“While I oppose the process that has led us to this point, I do not hold it against her as an individual who has navigated the gauntlet with grace, skill and humility. I will vote ‘no’ on the procedural votes ahead of us. but ‘yes’ to confirm Judge Barrett when the question before us is her qualification to be an associate justice,” Murkowski added.
After the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Murkowski said she opposed any attempt to fill the seat.
“For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election. Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed, she said in a statement.
“I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice Scalia. We are now even closer to the 2020 election – less than two months out – and I believe the same standard must apply.”
A few days later, after Trump nominated Barrett, she began to give herself wiggle room.
“For weeks I have stated that I do not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to an election,” she said in a statement then.
“But today the President exercised his constitutional authority to nominate an individual to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I welcome the opportunity to meet with the Supreme Court nominee, just as I did in 2016.”
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