PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota Sen. John Thune is reversing his 2016 stance on allowing the U.S. Senate to vote on a Supreme Court nominee during an election cycle that could produce a new president of the United States.
Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said that President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee will get a vote on the Senate floor.
“I believe Americans sent a Republican president and a Republican Senate to Washington to ensure we have an impartial judiciary that upholds the Constitution and the rule of law,” Thune said in a Monday, Sept. 21, news release.
“We will fulfill our obligation to them. As Leader [Mitch] McConnell has said, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate.”
Thune also noted that his position has been consistent throughout the years.
"In 2016, I supported Leader McConnell’s application of the ‘Biden Rule’ that Supreme Court vacancies that occur in an election year where the Senate majority and White House are occupied by different parties should be filled by whomever wins the election," Thune said in an email Monday. "I still support that principle, but since the Senate majority and White House are occupied by the same party, it doesn’t apply here. I look forward to seeing who the president nominates, and I will carefully review her qualifications as she’s considered by the Senate.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died from pancreatic cancer on Friday, Sept. 18. In the days before her death, Ginsburg made a statement to her granddaughter: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."
Thune’s stance does not align with his 2016 statement on voting for then President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court Justice nominee, Merrick Garland. Obama nominated Garland after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. The Republican-controlled Senate declined to take any action on the nomination, citing the upcoming presidential election.
“For the last seven years, President Obama has attempted to circumvent Congress and the will of the American people with unconstitutional, overreaching regulations. The Senate Republican majority was elected to be a check and balance to President Obama,” Thune said in 2016.
“The American people deserve to have their voices heard on the nomination of the next Supreme Court justice, who could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court for a generation. Since the next presidential election is already underway, the next president should make this lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.”