Are Wisconsin's Senators consistent on filling a Supreme Court vacancy during an election year?

PolitiFact Wisconsin with the Flip-O-Meter
Posted at 2:59 PM, Sep 25, 2020

President Donald Trump is expected to nominate his choice Saturday to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court with just less than 40 days to go until Election Day.

Politifact Wisconsin gets out the Flip-O-Meter and looks at what Wisconsin's senators have said now and back in 2016 when President Barack Obama tried to fill a seat during an election year.

"For the second straight time in a presidential year, there's a sudden vacancy on the U-S Supreme Court, said Eric Litke with PolitiFact Wisconsin.

A political firestorm brewing between Republicans and Democrats over the timing to nominate someone to the Supreme Court justice after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In 2016, President Obama tried to get the Republican-controlled Senate to take up his nomination to replace Justice Antonin Scalia during an election year.

"In 2016, Republican Senator Ron Johnson said in the politicized climate of an election year the president 'probably shouldn't even nominate someone,'" said Litke.

At that time, Sen. Johnson suggested voters should decide the direction of the court.

What about now?

"Now the senator says the Senate should vote on a potential nominee from President Trump," said Litke.

Johnson claims the situation is different in 2020 because the same party controls the presidency and senate.

"So Johnson now says it's proper but it 2016 it was not," said Litke. "That's a full flop."

What about Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin?

"She said in 2016 that President Obama was elected in 2012 to a full four-year term, not a three year and one month term," said Litke.

President Obama's nomination came eight months before the 2016 November Election.

What about now?

"Now with a potential coming from a Republican White House, Baldwin says that delaying a nomination until after the 2020 election is the right thing to do," said Litke.

Baldwin notes the timing is different with less than 40 days until Election Day versus eight months and the precedent by Republicans in 2016.

"But it doesn't change the fact that her position has changed on whether the Senate should confirm nominations in a presidential year," said Litke. "We rate this a full flop."

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