WASHINGTON (AP) – The list of Republicans who want to support the upcoming presidential candidate Joe Biden to the Supreme Court is “longer than you could have ever imagined,” the second-ranked Senate Democrat recently teased reporters.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin declined to name names. But it is clear that Senator Lindsay Graham, RS.C., is at the top of the list.
Graham, who was tied to former President Donald Trump, is among a group of Republicans who have declared their readiness to break the party line and vote for an as-yet-unannounced White House election to replace retired Judge Stephen Breer.
Whether Graham or any Republican will support Biden’s final candidate for the 50-50 Senate will be a new test for the president’s long-held and rarely achieved ambitions to see that Washington has taken a more bipartisan approach after the bitterness of the Trump era.
Democrats say getting a bipartisan vote is a top priority during the upcoming battle for confirmation. “It will be great for the Senate. It will be great for the Supreme Court, ”Durbin said after a meeting at the White House on Thursday. “I hope we can achieve that goal.”
These efforts will make Graham a senator.
Whether Democrats will be able to win Graham’s vote – and the votes of other Republicans such as Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – remains to be seen. Steady bitterness over how Republicans won a majority in Trump’s Supreme Court still remains the dividing line.
Sometimes Graham signals a willingness to cooperate with the Democrats first, but retreats to a guerrilla corner.
Graham spearheaded efforts in the Senate to protect Brett Cavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court candidate, from allegations of sexual assault, and it was Graham who brazenly refused to promise to refrain from upholding justice in the year of the presidential election. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he helped put Amy Connie Barrett on trial a few days before Biden won the November 2020 election.
But Graham also has a history of working with Democrats and has long said lawmakers should show respect for the presidential election. He was the only Republican on the committee to vote for two candidates for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court. Graham also voted against only a handful of Biden’s nominees in court, supporting about 30.
“I’m not playing this game like everyone else,” Graham told , explaining his voices.
While some Republicans ridiculed Biden’s promise to nominate a black woman, which became a historic first, Graham hurried to defend him. “Put me in a conviction camp that the court and other institutions look like America,” he said.
But there is a catch. Graham wants a colleague from South Carolina, U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs, to be elected, and said his vote would be “much more problematic” if it weren’t for her. He calls Childs someone: “I see myself supporting – if she’s doing well here” and argues that she could get the most support from the Republican Party.
“She has a damn story and I think she could unite the Senate and probably get more than 60 votes,” Graham told ABC on Sunday.
The White House says Childs, who was nominated to federal appeals court at the time Breyer announced her retirement, is being considered even though some liberal advocacy groups and unions are questioning her reputation.
Although Durbin did not support a particular candidate, he said he appreciated Graham’s strategy. “Starting with one or two votes from Republicans is a good start for any candidate,” he said, adding that “Lindsay is and will always be independent.”
Part of Graham’s opinion of Childs is that – unlike all current Supreme Court judges except Barrett – she didn’t go to Ivy League school. Matt Moore, a Republican strategist who served as Graham’s adviser in his 2020 campaign, said Childs ’promotion also appealed to voters at home.
“There is a certain amount of state honor when someone from South Carolina is tried in the Supreme Court,” Moore said.
Although Graham supported many Democratic candidates, he also followed the party’s line at two critical points – the first, when he did not allow Attorney General Merrick Garland to even get a hearing when he was nominated to the Supreme Court during the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency. Then, four years later, he became chairman of the Judicial Committee and nominated Barrett a few days before the presidential election.
These positions helped secure a 6-3 conservative majority in the Supreme Court, an ideological balance of power that will be maintained even after Breyer’s replacement is confirmed.
But Cavanaugh Graham’s defense was perhaps the defining moment for the senator. Graham exploded on Democrats during a hearing where Christine Blaise Ford accused Cavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school. Cavanaugh denied the charges.
Anger in his voice, Graham rebuked Democrats for treating Cavanaugh at a viral moment noted by conservatives.
“Boy, you all want power,” Graham said, addressing Democrats on the committee. “God, I hope you never get that. … I hate to say it because they were my friends. ”
Now there are signs that senators want relief. Bearing in mind that the vote will take place after Biden makes his choice, Democrats are reluctant to focus on the times when Graham angered them.
“I think he looks at the merits of these individuals and their qualifications, which is commendable,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Who works with Graham on the committee.
Democratic leaders also praised Graham last week for his work on a bill to end forced arbitration in the case of sexual harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace. Durbin called him a “life partner.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., was even more impressive.
“If he’s behind something, it’s done,” Sumer said. “So I want him to keep the most with us in the future.”
However, some will not be surprised if Graham opposes Biden’s choice.
Hawaii Sen. Macy Chiron, a Democrat on the Legal Committee who has worked with Graham in the past, said: “Virtually everything Lindsay does, back and forth and all that, no longer shocks me, which is very bad. Because I think Lindsay is a much better person than such flip-flops show. “
Graham was first elected to the Senate in 2002, about ten years after the Senate voted 96-3 for Liberal Ruth Bader Ginzburg in the Supreme Court, and about 16 years after the Senate voted 98-0 for Conservative Antonina Scalia . Graham said the overwhelming confirmation of ideological contradictions shows that it has been lost.
“One is very conservative, the other is very liberal, but they were clearly qualified,” Graham said. “It simply came to our notice then. Now everything is connected with tribal politics, and people are worried about the primaries. “