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.)

Year President Nominee Vote # of Republicans Voting No
1969 Nixon Warren Burger 74-3 0
1969 Nixon Clement Haynsworth 45-55 17  (Brooke, Case, Cooper, Goodell, Griffin, Hatfield, Javits, Jordan, Mathias, Miller, Packwood, Percy, Saxbe, Schweiker, Scott, Smith, Williams)
1970 Nixon G. Harrold Carswell 45-51 13  (Brooke, Case, Cook, Fong, Goodell, Hatfield, Javits, Mathias, Packwood, Percy, Prouty, Schweiker, Smith)
1970 Nixon Harry Blackmun 94-0 0
1971 Nixon Lewis Powell 89-1 0
1971 Nixon William Rehnquist 68-26 3  (Brooke, Case, Javits)
1975 Ford John Paul Stevens 98-0 0
1981 Reagan Sandra Day O’Connor 99-0 0
1986 Reagan Rehnquist (for Chief Justice) 65-33 2  (Mathias, Weicker)
1986 Reagan Antonin Scalia 98-0 0
1987 Reagan Robert Bork 42-58 6  (Chafee, Packwood, Specter, Stafford, Warner, Weicker)
1988 Reagan Anthony Kennedy 97-0 0
1990 George H.W. Bush David Souter 90-9 0
1991 George H.W. Bush Clarence Thomas 52-48 2  (Jeffords, Packwood)
2005 George W. Bush John Roberts (for Chief Justice) 78-22 0
2006 George W. Bush Samuel Alito 58-42 1  (Chafee)
2017 Donald Trump Neil Gorsuch 54-45 0

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