In 2016, Lindsey Graham took a strong position on filling a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year, words that we remember today.

By Matthew Schwartz | NPR

Almost immediately upon learning of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, attention turned to whether Republicans would attempt to fill her seat before the election.

Many eyes turned to moderate Republican senators like Susan Collins of Maine or Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. But even more conservative Republicans have, in the past, expressed their reluctance to fill a vacancy during an election year.

Chief among those is South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Graham, who as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee would oversee confirmation hearings, has said multiple times that if a vacancy opened up in the run-up to a presidential election, he would hold off on confirmation.

“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,” he said in 2016 shortly after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. “And you could use my words against me and you’d be absolutely right.”

Graham repeated the sentiment in 2018 in an interview with The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg. “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait till the next election.”

In a statement Friday evening, Graham expressed condolences over Ginsburg’s passing. “Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer who possessed tremendous passion for her causes,” he said. “While I had many differences with her on legal philosophy, I appreciate her service to our nation.”

On Saturday morning, President Trump was resolute in his call for Ginbsurg’s seat to be filled immediately. He tweeted: “We have this obligation, without delay!”

A short time later, Graham responded:

McConnell said Friday that whomever Trump nominates will get a Senate vote. That would go against Ginsburg’s final wishes. In a statement dictated to her granddaughter just days before her death, Ginsburg urged delaying a vote to fill her seat. “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” she said.

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