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Sen. Lamar Alexander on Sunday said he supports fellow Republicans’ efforts to take up a Supreme Court justice nomination during this presidential election year, squashing speculation that the retiring Tennessean might buck party leadership.
“No one should be surprised that a Republican Senate majority would vote on a Republican President’s Supreme Court nomination, even during a presidential election year,” Alexander said in a statement. He added that “[Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell is only doing what Democrat leaders have said they would do if the shoe were on the other foot.”
Alexander continued: “I have voted to confirm Justices Roberts, Alito, Sotomayor, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh based upon their intelligence, character and temperament. I will apply the same standard when I consider President Trump’s nomination to replace Justice Ginsburg.”
The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday has launched a political battle over the propriety of a president nominating and the Senate considering a justice in such close proximity to an election.
When Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly in 2016, nearly nine months before that election, Kentucky Republican McConnell blocked then-President Barack Obama’s nomination of a justice, citing the fact that an election was imminent.
When Ginsburg died on Friday, there were just 46 days until the Nov. 3 election.
Republicans have said this year is different because they control both the Senate and the presidency.
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins has said the winner of the election should name the nominee, and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has reiterated her stance that any nomination shouldn’t be considered before the election.
Republicans have a 53-seat majority in the Senate, and some political watchers were looking to see what Alexander might do.
Ginsburg, whose health waned in the years prior to her death, dictated in a deathbed statement to her granddaughter: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
She was 87 years old.