DALLAS — That escalated quickly.
In only four years, Democrats and Republicans have completely swapped positions on a major, contentious issue: whether the U.S. Senate should vote on a Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.
Four years ago under Pres. Barack Obama, Republicans didn’t want to consider a judicial nominee and Democrats did.
In 2020, under Pres. Donald Trump, it’s the exact opposite.
Sen. Ted Cruz says that’s politics and it happens a lot.
“It’s come up 29 times in U.S. history there’s been a vacancy during a presidential election year. If you look back at history and precedent, presidents have nominated someone for that vacancy all 29 times,” said Cruz on the latest episode of Y’all-itics.
“So of the 29 times in history, 19 of them the president and the Senate were both of the same party. And the Senate confirmed those nominees, made in a presidential election year, 17 of those 19 times. So there’s long precedent for that situation.”
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The Republican says of the 10 times where the parties were different in the Oval Office and Senate, the Senate has confirmed the nominee only twice.
“And what you’re seeing there is the checks and balances of our constitution. That’s not simply a partisan question," Cruz said. "It is rather, particularly today, Republicans and Democrats have very different visions of what Supreme Court Justices should be doing.”
Cruz joined the Jasons after voting on the Senate floor on a series of judges and the nominee to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Despite being on Trump's short-list of possible nominees, and even though he has a book coming out next week about the Supreme Court, he made clear to the Jasons he has no interest in the job.
“I don’t want to be a judge. A principled federal judge stays out of political fights, stays out of policy fights. If I were ever a federal judge, that’s what I would do. I would stay out of the political and policy fights. I don’t want to stay out of those fights,” he said. “I think the battles matter. When I say the court shouldn’t be legislating, that’s not to say legislating doesn’t matter.”
Cruz says for an example of this, look no further than the current battle in the Senate. The senator says he is leading the fight to confirm a nominee before the election (and he told the Jasons he thinks that is likely to happen). But he says he wouldn’t be able to do that as a member of the nation’s highest court.
And after facing a competitive race of his own in 2018, he says there is no doubt Texas has become more purple and will be a battleground Nov. 3.
“I believe this election is really going to come down to what happens with the economy and what happens with jobs. I think the number one priority should be reopening the economy.”