Rounds ‘prepared to vote’ on Trump’s SCOTUS nominee

Senator Mike Rounds (R, S.D., file photo)
Senator Mike Rounds (R, S.D., file photo)
Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 4:49 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Sen. Mike Rounds has joined most of his fellow Republicans in the Senate by saying he is prepared to vote on a Supreme Court nominee, despite being part of the effort to stall the process under similar circumstances four years ago.

“I will be prepared to vote whenever the vote is called based on the merits of the nominee,” Rounds said in a statement to Dakota News Now.

Democrats have criticized Republicans over their push to vote on President Donald Trump’s pending nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday. Four years ago, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to vote on then-President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill Antonin’s Scalia’s seat after he died, saying the 2016 election was already underway. Scalia died nine months prior to the 2016 election; Ginsburg died roughly six weeks before the upcoming November election.

“As a former governor, I respect the president’s constitutional responsibility to nominate an individual on the Supreme Court, as well as the Senate’s responsibility of ‘advice and consent,’” Rounds said in his statement. “But the Constitution does not outline a timeline for these actions to occur. I believe the Senate’s role is to do its due diligence and make a determination as to whether to fill the vacancy as soon as prudently possible.”

While Rounds statement sent Tuesday urged swiftness in the nomination process, his statement four years ago on Obama’s nominee - Merrick Garland - emphasized waiting for the election to “allow the American people to have a voice in the next Supreme Court Justice based upon who they elect as president this November.”

“My colleagues on the other side of the aisle have argued that the American people did have a voice when they elected President Obama in 2012 – but that election was nearly 3 and a half years ago,” Rounds said in remarks to the Senate in 2016. “Since that time, a lot has changed in our country, signaling a shift in Americans' views of our president and his philosophy of governing.”

Rounds followed up on this “shift in American views” by citing Republican gains in 2014 gubernatorial and state legislature elections. Though in 2018 - the midterm election following Trump’s election - Democrats made even larger gains in these races than Republicans had in 2014.

Rounds' 2016 remarks also included quotes from three South Dakotans who wrote to his office pleading for the Senate to wait to vote on the SCOTUS nominee until after the presidential election. These included a letter from a Lemmon man who said "Our country hangs in the balance as to what the future of this great country will look like… This decision is too crucial and the next Supreme Court nominee should be nominated by the next President of the United States.”

You can find Rounds' full remarks on Garland’s nomination in 2016 here.

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