Sen. Peters: Election should decide Supreme Court vacancy
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Democratic Sen. Gary Peters and Republican challenger John James staked out differing stances on the fight over President Donald Trump’s pending Supreme Court pick.
Peters said over the weekend that given the stakes involved, “voters should have their voices heard” in the fall presidential election, and no nomination to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should be made until the next presidential term begins.
Trump said Monday he expects to announce his pick for the Supreme Court on Friday or Saturday, fewer than 40 days before the election. He allowed that he would accept a vote in the lame-duck period after Election Day but made clear his preference would be that it occur by Nov. 3.
In a lengthy statement on Monday, James said Peters, “whenever a nominee is put forward,” should “do something he has never done — fairly and honestly evaluate the nominee on his or her merits, not on the basis of party politics.” He declined to address the timing of the Senate vote, however, and whether he supports majority Republicans rushing through a pick so close to the election without voters weighing in.
Democrats say the planned move is hypocritical after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to consider then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, 237 days before the 2016 election.
Peters, who is in his first term, is one of two senators running for reelection in a state won by Trump. It is a competitive race.
Peters said the stakes of the vacancy “couldn’t be higher,” noting the high court will hear a Republican-led case seeking to throw out the Affordable Care Act a week after the election. Abortion rights, civil rights, voting rights and workers’ rights “are on the line,” he said.
James accused Peters of only supporting nominees from Democratic presidents and always opposing those of Republican presidents. He called for a return to a time when nominees like Ginsburg were confirmed with 96 votes. He said that if he is elected, he “will fairly and honestly evaluate every Supreme Court nominee, regardless of which political party nominates.”
Democrats said James cannot be trusted to be an independent voice for Michigan, pointing to comments he made to WZZM-TV in June in which he said that his past “2,000%” support for Trump was specifically for appointing “textualist” Supreme Court justices and “repatriating jobs.”
“It’s no surprise that John James is trying to hide his real position from Michiganders — it’s the playbook he’s used the entire campaign whether it’s his ‘2000%’ support for Trump or his support for repealing the health care law that protects 1.7 million Michiganders with preexisting conditions,” said Peters campaign spokeswoman Vanessa Valdivia.
James has said he supports repealing the law but wants to keep intact coverage of preexisting conditions. He has not specified how he would replace the Obama-era law.
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