Sen. Susan Collins became the first Republican to break with her party over the Supreme Court vacancy, announcing Saturday she will oppose pushing through a Supreme Court nominee before knowing who wins the presidential election.
The Maine senator, who is facing a tough reelection bid, said she doesn’t have a problem with President Trump naming a nominee, but if he doesn’t win his own reelection race, Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden should get to make the pick.
“In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the president or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the president who is elected on November 3rd,” she said in a statement.
The pick would fill the seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday.
GOP leaders have said they’ll push ahead with trying to force a vote on whomever Mr. Trump nominates.
All Democrats are likely to oppose that, citing Republicans’ blockade four years ago of President Obama’s nominee to fill a seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
With the GOP holding 53 seats, they’d need to keep 50 of their members in line, with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence, in order to win confirmation.
Ms. Collins’ announcement narrows their margin.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski told Alaska Public Radio on Friday, before the news of Justice Ginsburg’s death, that she would not support confirming a nominee before the election.
Other key senators have not said what they would do.