Collins and Murkowski should abstain

As the Holy War concerning filling Justice Ginsburg's seat begins in earnest, one question the Republican side and President Trump should certainly pose is, what would the Democrats do if the situation were reversed?  Without question, they would have a Democrat president nominate a new justice, and the Democrat Senate majority would rush to confirm that nominee.  In all likelihood, Democrat discipline would work to hold their majority together, and the nominee would be confirmed.

Already, two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have indicated they would not vote to confirm a newly appointed justice before Election Day in November.  Collins has gone farther, indicating she would want the newly elected president to fill the seat.  If the winner is Trump, then in essence she is saying she would consider voting for Trump's nominee, probably to be announced this week, if the confirmation vote were held after Election Day.  

Collins has never opposed a Supreme Court nominee proposed by a president from either party since she took office.  She has supported well over 90 percent of judicial nominees proposed by President Trump.  She may be trying to restore her reputation of independence among voters in Maine, who at the moment appear to favor her rival, Sara Gideon, for the Senate seat being decided in less than seven weeks.  Collins voted for Brett Kavanaugh and made a principled, comprehensive presentation of her reasons for doing so.  Her vote was the one that put Kavanaugh over the top. 

For any open-minded voter in Maine, her explanation of her vote and the process she went through before deciding should have enhanced her reputation.  But we are in a resistance culture, where if you are not for the agenda of the left on every issue, then you must be taken down. 

So here is a suggestion for how Collins and Murkowski can live with their decision to not vote for a nominee before the election but still not damage a nominee they might otherwise support if the timing were a bit different.  Namely, both senators should abstain from the vote for confirmation if it is held before Election Day.  If their opposition is to the timing and not the nominee, why should they vote no?  Both senators have made clear that their opposition is to the timing.

The nominee is not yet known, and Collins has indicated she is fine with the confirmation process beginning and scheduling meetings for the proposed justice with senators.  To participate in this confirmation process and then vote no, solely because of the timing of the day of the vote, is unfair to the nominee, especially if the nominee would be supported by either or both of the two senators if the timing were different.

There is a lot of threading-the-needle thinking going on concerning this Supreme Court seat at the moment.  It would seem to me that Majority Leader McConnell could propose to the two senators that they abstain on a vote to confirm the nominee if it takes place before Election Day.

Photo credit: Joe Ravi C-BY-SA 3.0.