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Romney Constituents Surprised, Disappointed By His Decision To Vote On Trump SCOTUS Nominee

A photo of Mitt Romney.
Kelsie Moore
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney broke with the GOP in February to vote to convict President Trump during the impeachment trial. So some Utahns were surprised when he stuck with his party Tuesday to support a Supreme Court nominee less than two months away from the presidential election.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, said Tuesday he supports voting on a Supreme Court nominee this year to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, making it very likely Senate Republicans will be able to move forward with a nominee.

In 2016, the Republican-controlled Senate blocked a vote for President Barack Obama’s nominee eight months before the presidential election. Democrats now argue that it’s hypocritical to hold a vote even closer to the election.

But Romney said there is precedent for blocking Supreme Court nominees of the opposite party during an election year and allowing votes for nominees of the party controlled by the Senate.

“The decision ... will be based upon the qualifications of the nominee,” Romney said. “It's important that we follow the Constitution, which provides the president the authority to name a nominee and the Senate to provide advice and consent.”

If President Trump’s nominee is confirmed, conservatives will have a 6-3 majority on the court.

“A lot of the angst and energy that's surrounding the current nomination process is related to the fact that liberals have enjoyed a liberal leaning court for decades and are very upset about the prospect that the court may take a more conservative tact,” Romney said. “I understand that, but I don't concur with it. I'm a conservative and hope that we do have a court that holds to the law and the Constitution rather than a different course.”

Over the last 50 years, Republican presidents have successfully nominated 14 justices, and Democratic presidents have nominated just four. But Romney pointed to a New York Times column that argued that many of those Republican nominees didn’t vote according to his conservative views, mainly about abortion.

He said his office received about an equal number of calls and emails from constituents who wanted him to block a vote and from those who didn’t.

Cottonwood Heights Resident Elizabeth Craig is one of those constituents and said she was disappointed in Romney’s decision.

“You can put together a lovely worded statement, but it doesn't take away from the fact the hypocrisy is clearly there,” Craig said. “It saddens me to see our leadership not stick with the principles and the ethics that they've that they supported in the past.”

Hyde Park resident Dave Evans, a Romney critic, said he agreed with Romney’s decision, but was also surprised by it, given that Romney was the only GOP senator to vote to convict President Trump during this year’s impeachment trial.

“You're either on the team or you aren't,” Evans said, referring to the Republican party. “He does an absolute turnaround that decides to vote for confirmation of a Supreme Court judge before the election. It's odd to me.”

But Brigham Young University Political Science Professor Quin Monson said both decisions show that Romney wants to abide by the rules.

“What draws Romney to vote for impeachment and vote away from his party is ... his clear sense of the fact that President Trump broke the law,” Monson said.

But there’s no “rule of law” consideration with the Supreme Court decision, Monson argued.

“If you're technically going by the law and what the Constitution says, it's not a problem,” he said.

President Trump is expected to name his nominee this weekend.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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