The nation was rocked at the beginning of 2016 when conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly, creating a vacancy on the nation's highest court.
As was his constitutional duty, former President Barack Obama nominated Scalia's replacement, moderate Judge Merrick Garland.
Despite national outcry, the Republican-dominated Senate—led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)—refused to bring Obama's nomination to the floor. Instead, they left the seat open for over a year, claiming that it was too close to the election—which was nine months away—to let Obama appoint a Supreme Court justice.
McConnell said of the decision at the time:
"The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration. The next president may also nominate somebody very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in filling this vacancy."
President Donald Trump was eventually elected and inaugurated. Shortly after, the Senate confirmed Trump's nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch.
But with Trump still in office and the Presidential campaign, Republicans have changed their tune. McConnell has since vowed that the Senate would approve a Trump-nominated judge for the Supreme Court regardless of timing.
And in a recent interview, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) has said the same.
Even if Biden wins in November and Democrats win the Senate, Republican Senator Jodi Ernst supports filling a Supre… https://t.co/UOqTNZTAKC— Renato Mariotti (@Renato Mariotti) 1595429591.0
Ernst, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that even if Biden is elected and Democrats regain the Senate, she would have no problem approving a Trump-nominated judge in the two and a half months between the election and inauguration, colloquially known as the "lame duck" session.
The Senator said the situation was different than Garland's appointment because the Senate and the President are of the same party:
"I would support going ahead with any hearings that we might have and if it comes to an appointment prior to the end of the year, I would be supportive of that. We would need to have some very serious discussion about that, but again—even though it's a lame duck session, it is still a Republican President and still a Republican Senate."
People called out Ernst for her hypocrisy.
@renato_mariotti Um, no. That qas the reason given for not giving Merrick Garland a hearing. Remember McConnell say… https://t.co/njqQcKpMJ4— Deb Hodges (@Deb Hodges) 1595437547.0
@renato_mariotti Of course she and all the republicans are. They don't care about the will of the voter, they care… https://t.co/IgGhLWAHd8— Me, Myself, & I (@Me, Myself, & I) 1595439053.0
@renato_mariotti There are so many things that make me angry about these people, today it’s the hypocrisy..— Allison Page (@Allison Page) 1595430937.0
@renato_mariotti They just make up fake 'rules' to justify their actions. Its shameless.— Frederick C. Trump (@Frederick C. Trump) 1595430502.0
@renato_mariotti The will of the voters from 2016 and 2018 would trump the will of the voters from 2020.— Nigel Tufnel (@Nigel Tufnel) 1595431061.0
@renato_mariotti Of course she does. She is a full fledged member of Cult 45. No one should ever vote for her for a… https://t.co/Bvq3ERuOHs— John Mize (@John Mize) 1595434776.0
@renato_mariotti No distinction between principle and party. Perfectly on brand for the GOP.— Hoop77 (@Hoop77) 1595433464.0
Some momentum has grown in favor of expanding the Supreme Court to include more than nine justices.
Ernst's words only bolstered that stance among some.
@renato_mariotti @davidpsdem Of course she does. If that's the case, I will support adding justices to SCOTUS.— emskware2015 (@emskware2015) 1595443511.0
@renato_mariotti We’ll just add a 10th and 11th SCOTUS seat. They wanna cheat, we can cheat too.— Andy Griesemer (@Andy Griesemer) 1595430254.0
@renato_mariotti And then the Democrats can add several Justices to the stolen seats of Mr Kav, Gorsh, and a couple more for good measure.— Chris (@Chris) 1595434167.0
The new Congress will be sworn in on January 3rd of 2021, while either Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden will be sworn in on January 20.