Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham’s home in Washington on Monday to protest his support for a Senate vote on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee ahead of the election.
Democrats have condemned the South Carolina senator and other Republicans for flip-flopping on their opposition to filling a Supreme Court vacancy during a presidential election year. In 2016, Graham supported Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to block Senate consideration of Merrick Garland, then-President Barack Obama’s pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
But Graham, who now chairs the key Judiciary Committee, appeared to change his tune following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, saying he would support Trump “in any effort to move forward” in filling her seat.
Trump said on Monday that he’d announce his nomination Friday or Saturday, and that a Senate vote on his nominee should happen before the Nov. 3 election.
Protesters on Monday showed up to Graham’s townhouse around 6 a.m., where they banged drums, blared air horns and demanded that he oppose a Supreme Court confirmation vote before Election Day.
“We can’t sleep so neither should Lindsey,” read one sign held by a protester. Other signs in the crowd labeled Graham a “two-faced coward” and a “hypocrite.”
It’s unclear whether Graham was inside the house during the demonstration, which was organized by Shut Down DC and the Washington chapter of the Sunrise Movement, two groups focused on tackling the climate crisis.
Trump and many of his Republican allies have called for a swift confirmation of his nominee to the Supreme Court. Ginsburg was one of the court’s most liberal judges, making Republicans eager to fill her seat with a conservative. If they succeed, the court will have a 6-3 conservative majority.
Hours after Ginsburg’s death, McConnell said Trump’s nominee would receive a vote on the Senate floor.
When Scalia died in 2016, McConnell blocked Garland from receiving a hearing in the Senate, claiming the winner of the 2016 presidential election should pick the nominee. Scalia died 269 days before the 2016 presidential election. Ginsburg died 46 days before the 2020 presidential election.
Graham stood by McConnell’s decision in 2016, stating at the time that he strongly supports “giving the American people a voice in choosing the next Supreme Court nominee by electing a new president.”
“I want you to use my words against me,” Graham said at the time. “If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said, ‘Let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.’ And you could use my words against me and you’d be absolutely right.”
Graham reiterated his stance in 2018 during a forum with The Atlantic, stating that “if an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait until the next election.”
But Graham now seems unfazed by his pledges.
“I fully understand where [Trump] is coming from,” Graham tweeted Saturday in response to the president’s statement that the GOP has an “obligation” to fill the Supreme Court vacancy “without delay.”
About 100 demonstrators protested outside McConnell’s home in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday, calling on the Republican leader to allow whoever is elected in November to pick the next Supreme Court nominee.
“I think it’s time to stand up and speak out,” one protester told WLKY. “That’s what Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought her whole life for.”