“The American People Should Have A Voice” and Other Lies Republicans Said About Obama’s 2016 Supreme Court Nomination

In 2016 the Republicans took a stand after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death, declaring that they would not approve Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. They stated that there was a “precedent” of not accepting Supreme Court nominees during election years, and they wanted to give the American people a voice in deciding who the next nominee was. 

This was eleven months before Obama left office. 

Through the rest of the year, the Senate Republicans acted like no Supreme Court vacancy existed, shattering the 100-year-old record of 125 days being the longest gap between a Supreme court nomination and confirmation. That whole time, they handicapped the court, which was reluctant to take on new cases due to the potential for 4-4 splits. 

Then America’s voice was heard. Through the popular vote. The most American voters didn’t want a conservative Supreme Court nominee. 

Of course, the Senate Republicans at the time ignored that voice, confirming Trump’s nomination less than two weeks after he took office. 

You would think, after all that they would have the decency now to stick to their word. To wait to confirm a Supreme Court justice when we are only a few months away from an election. 


In fact most of them don’t even have enough of a back bone to admit that all those words about listening to the American people were just lies they used to justify their own selfish action. 

It would be one thing if they could just admit their hypocrisy and say, “Yeah we lied. We just wanted to sound like we were upholding what the U.S. government stood for instead of actively working against how it was set up to run. Yes, we ARE the power-hungry, deceptive politicians that the founding father’s warned you about.” 

The extent of their hypocrisy is frankly staggering. Below are some highlight quotes from Republican senators who vowed in 2016 to not confirm a Supreme Court nominee during an election year. 

Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell has made so many statements about waiting to confirm a Supreme Court justice during an election year that it was hard to pick just a few. 

His initial statement on the day of Scalia’s death was that, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

Shortly after that he released a statement that, “[W]hile finding the right person to take the seat [Scalia] occupied will clearly be a monumental task, it’s one we think the American people are more than equipped to tackle. Some disagree and would rather the Senate simply push through yet another lifetime appointment from a president who’s on his way out the door…I believe that it is today the American people who are best-positioned to help make this important decision.” 

A week later he said at a press conference, “The American people are perfectly capable of having their say on this issue, so let’s give them a voice. Let’s let the American people decide.” 

McConnell has vowed to push the nomination through before the American people’s voice can be heard in the upcoming election. 

Senator John Cornyn 

In 2016 Senator John Cornyn released a statement on his website that, “I believe the American people deserve to have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court Justice, and the best way to ensure that happens is to have the Senate consider a nomination made by the next President. Confirming a new Supreme Court Justice during a presidential election year for a vacancy arising that same year is not common in our nation’s history; the last time it happened was in 1932. And it has been almost 130 years since a presidential election year nominee was confirmed for a vacancy arising the same year under divided government as we have today.”

Cornyn has said that he will confirm Trump’s nominee if he deems them qualified. 

Senator Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham famously said that it was too close to the election to confirm a Supreme Court nominee, even though it was over 9 months away. In an interview on the matter he said, “I want you to use my words against me… If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.” 

In 2018 Lindsey Graham stated again, “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait to the next election.”

Despite his strong words, and urging to use his words against him, he has stated that he will vote to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. 

Senator Cory Gardner

Senator Gardner refused to even consider or meet with Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland stating, “Our next election is too soon and the stakes are too high; the American people deserve a role in the process as the next Supreme Court justice will influence the direction of this country for years to come.”

Gardner recently released a statement that, “Should a qualified nominee who meets this criteria be put forward, I will vote to confirm.”

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