Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is standing by his handling of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination and confirmation to the nation’s highest bench, saying he isn’t worried that a negative political consequence will come from it.
In separate interviews with Politico and the New York Times on Tuesday, McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed pride in the success of his years-long effort to fill the federal judiciary with conservative judges.
The effort, which has resulted in three Supreme Court appointments as Senate majority leader, has earned him a legacy in Republican politics for securing a conservative swing in the judicial branch of government for decades to come.
As McConnell told Politico, the impact of his work will be the protection of conservative legal interpretation through the courts even if Democrats reclaimed the executive and legislative branches.
“Permanency depends on the next election. So that’s the way legislation goes. But in judicial appointments you can have a longer-lasting positive impact,” he told the outlet.
When asked if he had any concerns about GOP lawmakers being hurt in the November election by his move to push Barrett’s nomination forward, the Kentucky Republican said he believes the court fight energized conservative voters.
“In terms of the politics of it, I think it was helpful for us in 2016 and 2018, and it is clearly, I think, a plus in 2020 as well. So, good for the country and good for us politically as well,” he said.
McConnell expressed little worry to The Times about how Democratic lawmakers described his handling of Barrett’s nomination and confirmation process, explaining, “This is a tough business we are all in, and we expect to be criticized. The more impact we have, the louder the voices of opposition. It goes with the turf.”
The top Senate Republican discussed his own professional legacy with both outlets, telling The Times that he “certainly didn’t expect to have three Supreme Court justices.”
“At the risk of tooting my own horn, look at the majority leaders since L.B.J. and find another one who was able to do something as consequential as this,” he said.
He went on to describe his mark on the judiciary as “the single most important accomplishment of my career. I’m proud of it, and I feel good about it.”
Asked by Politico about his legacy, McConnell reiterated his understanding of the magnitude of his judicial achievement.
“I think my record speaks for itself. The judicial part in particular is of great consequence, and I think you all are capable of comparing that to previous majority leaders,” he told the outlet.
In the wake of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away in late September, President Trump and McConnell said they would move forward on a vote on her replacement.
The idea sparked fury in the Democratic Party, leading numerous prominent figures to voice their support for court “packing,” or expanding the nation’s highest bench to more than the original nine members.
Trump and Republicans have defended replacing Ginsburg before the November election, arguing that unlike when McConnell blocked President Barack Obama’s choice for the high court in 2016, the GOP now holds both the White House and Senate.
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