Murkowski Opposes Senate Vote On Supreme Court Nominee Before Election

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) issued a statement on Sunday announcing she publicly opposes voting to confirm a new Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the November election.

From NBC News:

“For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election,” Murkowski said in a statement. “Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed.”

Murkowski joins Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, facing a tough re-election battle, in opposing taking up President Donald Trump’s forthcoming nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg died Friday at 87 from complications from pancreatic cancer.

“I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice [Antonin] Scalia,” she continued. “We are now even closer to the 2020 election – less than two months out – and I believe the same standard must apply.”

Donald Trump has already announced he will nominate a new justice in the next few days, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

McConnell can afford to lose three Republican votes and still confirm a Trump nominee, but four ‘no’ votes would force him to wait until a lame-duck session after the election.

In a statement dictated to her granddaughter days before her death, Ginsburg said: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Lindsey Graham: ‘Let’s Let The Next President Make That Nomination’

On the day after the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it’s interesting to revisit the words of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) from just a few years ago:

“This is the last year of a lame-duck, and if Ted Cruz or Donald Trump get to be president, they’ve all asked us not to confirm or take up a selection by President Obama. So if a vacancy occurs in their last year, of their first term, guess what, you will use their words against them. You will use their words against them.

“I want you to use my words against me. If there is 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,’ and you could use my words against me and you’d be absolutely right.”

The Washington Post reports that in 2018, when Graham was in line to take over the committee with jurisdiction over Supreme Court nominees, he said that ‘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.’”

Graham is in a tight race for reelection himself this year – the most recent polls show him tied with his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison. How will his state react if he supports a vote on RGB’s replacement before the election?

Two other Republican Senators have signaled opposition to confirming a new justice so close to an election.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told The Hill in August of this year: “When Republicans held off Merrick Garland it was because nine months prior to the election was too close, we needed to let people decide. And I agreed to do that. If we now say that months prior to the election is okay when nine months was not, that is a double standard and I don’t believe we should do it. So I would not support it.”

And Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), also in a tough reelection campaign, told the New York Times‘ Jonathan Martin earlier this month, she would not seat a Supreme Court justice in October.

“I think that’s too close, I really do,” she said. She added she’d also oppose seating a justice in the lame-duck session if there’s a change in presidents.

Murkowski To Vote ‘No’ On Impeachment Witnesses

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) announced Friday she will vote against calling witnesses in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

And with that announcement, we are likely to see the trial come to an end soon.

“I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its process, but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena,” Murkowski said.

The announcement came just prior to a four-hour debate and a vote on whether to allow new evidence, scheduled for Friday.

A few of things I’ll point out here:

One, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) have already announced they would vote ‘yes’ on calling witnesses. IF Murkowski had voted ‘yes’ as well, it would have put Chief Justice John Roberts, currently presiding over the trial, in the position of having to break a tie. The optics of him choosing a side in the proceedings would have been horrible for the Republicans. This surely led Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold Murkowski to a ‘no’ vote.

Two, Murkowski isn’t up for reelection this year, and she comes from an overwhelmingly red state. She needed to look like she was standing with her party. Contrast that with Collins who IS up for reelection with a tough campaign ahead – in a state that isn’t a solidly red state.

Finally, in the 20 U.S. impeachments since 1797, this is the first one to have no witnesses. Think on that.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski pens strong support for marriage equality

Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) has released a strong, sound and principled statement in support for marriage equality.  This makes her the third sitting GOP Senator to endorse same-sex marriage.

Bravo, Sen. Murkowski!

Excerpt from Sen. Murkowski’s official website:

First, this is a personal liberty issue and has to do with the most important personal decision that any human makes. I believe that, as Americans, our freedoms come from God and not government, and include the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What could be more important to the pursuit of happiness than the right to choose your spouse without asking a Washington politician for permission? If there is one belief that unifies most Alaskans – our true north – it is less government and more freedom. We don’t want the government in our pockets or our bedrooms; we certainly don’t need it in our families.

Secondly, civil marriage also touches the foundation of our national culture: safe, healthy families and robust community life. In so many ways, sound families are the foundation of our society. Any efforts or opportunity to expand the civil bonds and rights to anyone that wants to build a stable, happy household should be promoted.

Thirdly, by focusing on civil marriage — but also reserving to religious institutions the right to define marriage as they see fit — this approach respects religious liberty by stopping at the church door. As a Catholic, I see marriage as a valued sacrament that exists exclusively between a man and a woman. Other faiths and belief systems feel differently about this issue – and they have every right to. Churches must be allowed to define marriage and conduct ceremonies according to their rules, but the government should not tell people who they have a right to marry through a civil ceremony.

I encourage you to read the entire statement. Sen. Murkowski, finding common ground through common sense, shares how marriage equality for all is just as much a conservative value as it is an American value.

Sen. Murkowski supported both the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin released the following statement in response to the news:

“Senator Murkowski’s courageous and principled announcement today sends a clear message that marriage equality must come to all 50 states in this country. As the Supreme Court prepares to rule in two landmark marriage cases this month, a growing bipartisan coalition is standing up for the right of all couples to marry—and there is no turning back that tide.

“We hope other fair-minded conservatives like Senator Murkowski stand up and join her. Alaska may be nicknamed ‘the Last Frontier,’ but we’ve got to make sure that LGBT Alaskans don’t have to wait to find justice.”