Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday that he would not commit to considering a President Biden Supreme Court nominee in 2023 or 2024 should Republicans retake the Senate and a vacancy arise.
McConnell made the comments during an appearance on conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Monday morning. The issue of Supreme Court vacancies has arisen in recent weeks amid speculation about the future of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, 82. Progressives are pushing for Breyer’s retirement at the end of this term.
The Kentucky Republican told Hewitt that it would be “highly unlikely” he would allow the confirmation of a Biden Supreme Court pick in 2024 should Republicans win the Senate in next year’s midterm elections.
“In fact, no, I don’t think either party. . . would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election,” McConnell said, if the presidency and the Senate were controlled by opposite parties.
Republicans confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Court just weeks before the presidential election last year, cementing a 6-3 conservative majority, possibly for years.
Pressed by Hewitt on whether “a mainstream liberal” nominated by Biden would get a hearing if a vacancy were to arise in 2023, McConnell said he would “wait and see.”
McConnell’s comments come as some on the left, stung by the September 2020 death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who resisted pressure from former president Barack Obama to retire in 2013, make open calls for Breyer’s retirement from the Court.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told CNN on Sunday that she’d be “inclined to say yes” to agree that Breyer should step down at the end of the Court’s current term later this month.
Earlier this spring, Representative Mondaire Jones of New York also said Breyer should retire, telling Cheddar News, “my goodness: have we not learned our lesson?”