A majority of Americans support filling a Supreme Court vacancy during an election year, according to a poll taken just days before Ruth Bader Ginsburg died.
The question of whether a vacancy should be filled during an election year has taken center stage in the national discourse following Ginsburg’s death. Democrats say the court should remain short one justice until after the election, over fears that President Donald Trump will nominate another conservative justice. Republicans, on the other hand, have said they will move forward and fill the vacancy.
What did the poll find?
The Marquette University poll found that two-thirds of American adults — a whopping 67% — support conducting the Supreme Court confirmation process during an election year, while just 32% of respondents said they oppose it.
Among political parties, 68% of Republicans, 63% of Democrats, and 71% of Independents said they support holding hearings during an election year.
There was, however, significant partisan disagreement over whether blocking Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court was the right thing to do.
In 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell effectively blocked Garland’s nomination by refusing to hold confirmation hearings. The politically motivated move allowed a Republican president, not Democratic then-President Barack Obama, to fill the high court vacancy left by Antonin Scalia’s sudden death.
A whopping 78% of Independents and 84% of Democrats told Marquette University the move was the “wrong thing to do.” By contrast, 45% of Republican respondents said it was the “right thing to do.”
Unfortunately for Democrats, they will be unable to block whomever Trump nominates because Republicans enjoy a majority in the Senate.
What about court-packing?
The poll found that Republicans and Independents — 65% and 58%, respectively — overwhelmingly “oppose” or “strongly oppose” altering the composition of the Supreme Court to pack it with ideological judges.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the poll also found that a majority of Democrats — 61% — support court-packing.
In alignment with that sentiment, Democrats are now threatening court-packing as retaliation over Trump filling the Supreme Court vacancy in an election year. Democrats say that, once their party regains control of the White House and Senate, they will both expand the number of Supreme Court justices and appoint all ideologically liberal justices.
Not only are they threatening to pack the court, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday refused to rule out impeachment as another retaliatory measure if Trump successfully appoints his third justice to the court.