A Republican U.S. Senator says there would be different considerations in play for how the to handle a vacancy on the Supreme Court, if a Republican were currently living in the White House.
Senate GOP leaders have said they have no plans to take up any nominee for the seat left vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia until after the November election, arguing the public should be allowed to weigh in on the future direction of the court with by voting for the next president. Democrats have criticized the move as historically unprecendented, and President Barack Obama should be allowed to have any nomination he makes heard and voted on.
Appearing on a Janesville radio show Thursday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) was asked whether the GOP would take a different approach if Republican Mitt Romney had won the presidential race in 2014, and was facing reelection this fall. “It’s a different situation,” Johnson responded. “If a conservative president’s replacing a conservative justice, there’s a little more accomodation to it…but when you’re talking about a conservative justice now being replaced by a liberal president, who would literally flip the court…that’s the concern.”
Johnson argued the decision threatens the right to bear arms and religious liberty of the American people, making the naming of the next justice “an incredibly serious moment in terms of what the composition of the court is going to be.”
Democrats criticized the comments as proof that Republicans are obstructing the president for purely partisan reasons. A spokesman for Democrat Russ Feingold’s campaign, who is challenging Johnson in November, called the admission confirmation the senator is “only willing to do his job if it helps Washington Republicans.” Russ for Wisconsin Communications Director Michael Tyler said Johnson should “should do the job he was hired for and consider any Supreme Court nominee, whether it’s from a Republican President or a Democrat.”