Toomey, swing state Republican, supports Senate moving on Trump Supreme Court nominee

Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyAppeals court rules NSA’s bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel GOP senators push for quick, partial reopening of economy MORE (R-Pa.) on Tuesday said he will vote to confirm President TrumpDonald John TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE’s nominee to the Supreme Court if that person meets the appropriate criteria, putting another stake into Democratic hopes of keeping Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgGraham: GOP will confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before the election Trump puts Supreme Court fight at center of Ohio rally The Memo: Dems face balancing act on SCOTUS fight MORE’s seat vacant until January. 

Toomey is up for reelection in 2022 in a state where former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenJoe Biden looks to expand election battleground into Trump country Trump puts Supreme Court fight at center of Ohio rally Special counsel investigating DeVos for potential Hatch Act violation: report MORE is leading Trump in the polls by a small margin.

Despite being one of the few Senate Republicans who could face pushback from voters in 2022 for voting on Trump’s nominee so close to an election or in a lame-duck session, Toomey says it’s appropriate to confirm a justice to the Supreme Court before year’s end if that candidate is sufficiently qualified.

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“I will evaluate President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg based on whether the nominee has the character, intellect, and experience needed to serve on our nation’s highest court,” Toomey said in a statement. 

The Pennsylvania Republican noted he used the same criteria when he voted to confirm Justice Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorNames to watch as Trump picks Ginsburg replacement on Supreme Court READ: Supreme Court justices mourn death of Ginsburg, ‘an American hero’ READ: Supreme Court justices offer tributes to Ruth Bader Ginsburg MORE to the high court in 2009. 

“If the person President Trump nominates also meets these criteria, I will vote to confirm this nominee,” Toomey said.

Toomey’s statement quashes what little, if any, hopes Democrats had left of finding four Senate Republicans to side with them in calling for Ginsburg’s seat to be held vacant until the results of the Nov. 3 election are known, and if Biden wins for a nominee to wait until 2021. 

Only moderate Republican Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGraham: GOP will confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before the election Gardner signals support for taking up Supreme Court nominee this year Tumultuous court battle upends fight for Senate MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGraham: GOP will confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before the election Gardner signals support for taking up Supreme Court nominee this year Tumultuous court battle upends fight for Senate MORE (Alaska) have said the nomination should wait until it can be made by the winner of November’s presidential election.

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Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGraham: GOP will confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before the election Gardner signals support for taking up Supreme Court nominee this year Grassley, Ernst pledge to ‘evaluate’ Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE (R-Utah) and Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerGraham: GOP will confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before the election Gardner signals support for taking up Supreme Court nominee this year Tumultuous court battle upends fight for Senate MORE (R-Colo.), who were seen as two other voices who might object to a speedy confirmation process, this week said they will vote for the nominee if that person is properly qualified. 

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

Gardner said Monday, “I have and will continue to support judicial nominees who will protect our Constitution, not legislate from the bench, and uphold the law.”

“Should a qualified nominee who meets this criteria be put forward, I will vote to confirm,” he said. 

Toomey in 2016 supported the decision by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham: GOP will confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before the election Trump puts Supreme Court fight at center of Ohio rally The Memo: Dems face balancing act on SCOTUS fight MORE (R-Ky.) not to hold a vote on then-President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandGraham: GOP will confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before the election Trump puts Supreme Court fight at center of Ohio rally The Memo: Dems face balancing act on SCOTUS fight MORE, in an election year.

But on Tuesday he said the situation in 2020 is different because the same party, the GOP, now controls the White House and Senate. Four years ago, Democrats controlled the White House while Republicans controlled the Senate.

“The Senate’s historical practice has been to fill Supreme Court vacancies in these circumstances. This is also a view Democrats once held,” Toomey argued.