GOP ‘No’ Votes On Republican Court Picks

If the Democrats have any chance at defeating the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, still a long shot at this point, one or more Republican senators are going to have to vote no.  The names of Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have been most mentioned, if only because they support abortion rights, and Kavanaugh is presumed to be opposed to such rights … if no other reason than the fact he was nominated by Donald Trump.

Shortly after the nomination was announced, Murkowski had this to say: “Let’s put it this way: There were some who have been on the list that I would have had a very, very difficult time supporting, just based on what was already publicly known about them.  We’re not dealing with that.”  Collins also sounded willing to listen: “It will be very difficult for anyone to argue that he’s not qualified for the job. He clearly is qualified for the job.  But there are other issues involving judicial temperament and his political, or rather, his judicial philosophy that also will play into my decision.”

Neither Collins nor Murkowski is up for re-election this year.  Both voted in favor of Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Court last year.  And both voted for Kavanaugh in 2006 when he was nominated by President George W. Bush to the D.C. Circuit.  That doesn’t necessarily mean Collins and Murkowski are sure votes for Kavanaugh to become Anthony Kennedy’s successor, but that’s the guess here.

It’s rare that senators vote against their president’s Supreme Court pick, but that was not always the case.  Here is a list of the Republican senators who voted against confirmation of Supreme Court hopefuls who were nominated by GOP presidents in the past half century.  (NOTE:  Names in italics indicate unsuccessful nomination.)

YearPresidentNomineeVote# of Republicans Voting No
1969NixonWarren Burger74-30
1969NixonClement Haynsworth45-5517  (Brooke, Case, Cooper, Goodell, Griffin, Hatfield, Javits, Jordan, Mathias, Miller, Packwood, Percy, Saxbe, Schweiker, Scott, Smith, Williams)
1970NixonG. Harrold Carswell45-5113  (Brooke, Case, Cook, Fong, Goodell, Hatfield, Javits, Mathias, Packwood, Percy, Prouty, Schweiker, Smith)
1970NixonHarry Blackmun94-00
1971NixonLewis Powell89-10
1971NixonWilliam Rehnquist68-263  (Brooke, Case, Javits)
1975FordJohn Paul Stevens98-00
1981ReaganSandra Day O’Connor99-00
1986ReaganRehnquist (for Chief Justice)65-332  (Mathias, Weicker)
1986ReaganAntonin Scalia98-00
1987ReaganRobert Bork42-586  (Chafee, Packwood, Specter, Stafford, Warner, Weicker)
1988ReaganAnthony Kennedy97-00
1990George H.W. BushDavid Souter90-90
1991George H.W. BushClarence Thomas52-482  (Jeffords, Packwood)
2005George W. BushJohn Roberts (for Chief Justice)78-220
2006George W. BushSamuel Alito58-421  (Chafee)
2017Donald TrumpNeil Gorsuch54-450

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