SALT LAKE CITY — U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney says he will vote on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee whenever that nominee reaches the Senate floor.
“The Constitution gives the President the power to nominate and the Senate the authority to provide advice and consent on Supreme Court nominees,” Romney, R-Utah, said in a statement Tuesday. “Accordingly, I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the President’s nominee. If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications.”
The vacancy was created after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday at age 87. Trump said he will announce his nominee for her replacement Saturday, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will take a confirmation vote for Trump’s candidate.
In a conference call with members of the Utah media Tuesday, Romney said he had the utmost respect for Ginsburg.
“I deeply respect Ruth Bader Ginsburg and believe that she made an important contribution to our country and to the national spirit of our country,” Romney said.
He added that he did not want to “detract” from his respect of the late adjudicator, but said the Senate must follow the Constitution in the process of nominating a new Supreme Court justice.
Having previously voted to convict Trump of abuse of power during the president’s impeachment trial, Romney is seen as one of a handful of Republicans in Congress who does not always align with the majority of his party.
Some thought Romney may break ranks with the GOP in support of waiting to vote on a Supreme Court nominee until after the November presidential election. Senators Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have both said they might support waiting until after the election for a vote.
But Romney didn’t follow suit.
“My decision regarding a Supreme Court nomination is not the result of a subjective test of ‘fairness’ which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It is based on the immutable fairness of following the law, which in this case is the Constitution and precedent,” Romney said. “The historical precedent of election-year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party’s nominee but does confirm a nominee of its own.”
Romney said he came to a decision several days ago. He added that he spoke with politicians on both sides of the aisle as he was making his decision, but had not spoken to anyone aside from McConnell after coming to a final conclusion.
In the run-up to his decision, he also spoke with donors, family members and colleagues, as well as his friend and former GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan, who ran as Romney’s vice presidential running mate in 2012. Ryan was confident he would make the right decision, Romney said.
He said as of Tuesday morning he had not yet seen the full report of constituents’ calls to his office regarding the decision, but said they were evenly split. Romney added that those calls were not a critical element of his decision, though.
Some have leveled charges of hypocrisy against Republicans now, after Senate Republicans led by McConnell refused to hold a confirmation vote on Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. Trump subsequently nominated Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed to the court in 2017 after Trump took office.
But Romney said the two scenarios aren’t exactly similar, adding that he believes the GOP is following precedent and the Constitution with McConnell’s intention to hold a vote on Trump’s eventual nominee. He said a Senate controlled by one party hasn’t always confirmed a nominee from another party during an election year, which is a precedent that goes back decades.
“The decision today will be based upon the qualifications of the nominee,” he said.
Romney’s preferred qualifications will include a nominee who follows the law and the Constitution as written, he said.
When asked, he declined to identify cases or issues he would like to see the Supreme Court examine, such as Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortions nationwide.
“I’d like to see a person who reflects the values of Utah and the nation,” Romney said. “I hope we will find that in President Trump’s nominee.”
Romney added that in the past he’s said he would prefer individual states to make their own abortion laws rather than a federal mandate, but that decision should be left to the Supreme Court justices. But he’s confident he won’t ever be one of those justices, he joked.
He added that he hopes the next Supreme Court will be one that is admired, respected and followed by the entire nation. Romney said he believes all justices on the court exercise their best judgment on deciding what is right and wrong, but he hopes they will continue to follow the law and the Constitution by the book.
“I continue to have profound respect for the Supreme Court of the United States,” Romney said.
Utah’s senior Republican in the Senate, Mike Lee, has indicated he will vote on Trump’s pick.
“If we like the nominee, we will confirm her,” Lee said in a statement Monday. “If we don’t, we won’t. It’s that simple.”
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Mitt Romney says he will vote on Trump Supreme Court nominee /p>