Lindsey Graham Backpedals After Saying ‘Use My Words Against Me’ on Supreme Court Vacancies

“I fully understand where President @realDonaldTrump is coming from,” senator says after POTUS tweets GOP’s “obligation” to appoint replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Last Updated: September 19, 2020 @ 11:38 AM

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who said in 2016 to “use my words against me” if he were to advocate the nomination of a Supreme Court justice in any President’s final year of their term, feels very differently in 2020.

Following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, Graham retweeted President Trump’s comment that the GOP has an “obligation, without delay” to appoint a new justice to the Supreme Court, adding that, “I fully understand where President @realDonaldTrump is coming from.”

“Harry Reid changed the rules to allow a simple majority vote for Circuit Court nominees dealing out the minority. Chuck Schumer and his friends in the liberal media conspired to destroy the life of Brett Kavanaugh and hold that Supreme Court seat open,” Graham tweeted Saturday. “In light of these two events, I will support President @realDonaldTrump in any effort to move forward regarding the recent vacancy created by the passing of Justice Ginsburg.”

In 2016, Graham used the election year as an excuse to block the Republican-led Senate’s consideration of Obama appointee Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia on the high court. After the media was swift to hold Graham’s 2016 words (and his 2018 words) against him as he requested, Graham on Saturday morning pointed to other, more recent comments he made to NBC News and The Hill.

“In 2016, Graham said that people should use his own words against him if he ever tried to advance a SCOTUS nominee in an election year,” Yashar Ali tweeted. “Now he’s tweeting out a statement he made where he says after Kavanaugh the rules have changed.”

Back in 2016 as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Graham said, “I want you to use my words against me. If there’s 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.” But in August after the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, he told NBC News that ” the rules have changed as far as I’m concerned.”

He also cited comments he previously made in May (via The Hill) that when Obama appointed Garland, the situation was different because the White House was in the hands of the Democrats but the Congress was controlled by the Republicans, and that “appointing judges is a high priority for me in 2020.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already vowed that President Trump’s yet-to-be-named nominee would get a vote on the Senate floor, though a handful of more moderate Republicans have already indicated their hesitation at appointing a new Supreme Court justice with just 45 days before the election.

Former Obama advisor David Axelrod told Anderson Cooper on CNN Newsroom Saturday that the Republicans may be willing to appoint a new justice quickly should the Supreme Court be called upon to decide a contested election, and having a 6-3 conservative to liberal majority on the bench instead of a 5-3 margin would help President Trump get re-elected. That said, a rush to do so could further risk Americans’ trust in our democracy.

“We are already straining in terms of public trust in terms of our democratic institutions. This would really add to that, and this is really worrisome,” Axelrod said.

See Graham’s most recent comments alongside his 2016 and 2018 comments below: