Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof has joined the chorus of Republicans calling for the full consideration of a Supreme Court justice nominee over the coming weeks.
Obhof, R-Medina, said Friday that historical precedent shows that President Trump deserves to nominate a replacement to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18 at the age of 87. Trump has indicated plans to announce a nominee this weekend. Obhof said the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate should give the nominee due consideration and confirm them if so qualified before Trump’s first term ends in January.
Democrats have urged the Senate to wait, citing the proximity of the 2020 presidential election.
During the previous presidential election year in 2016, Republicans in the Senate refused to give a hearing for President Barack Obama’s nominee made in February of that year— nine months before Election Day.
Republicans said then a replacement should not be named during a contentious election year and that the American people should decide the president to make the pick. Later on, the argument became that political composition was the reason for holding off; because the president and Senate were of different parties in 2016, that meant a nomination should not be considered amid divided government.
Obhof made that case on Friday, saying that tradition showed nominees are confirmed during election years if the president and Senate are of the same party.
Asked why that distinction mattered, Obhof said voters who opted for a Republican-leaning Senate headed into 2016 deserved to have their voices heard in opposition to President Obama, a Democrat.
A number of polls conducted since Ginsburg’s death have shown that a clear majority of Americans believe the 2020 presidential winner should fill the open seat, not Trump and the Senate this fall.
Asked if those voices should be heard, Obhof demurred.
“The constitution says what it says,” he said. “This is not about politics, this is not about polls. The president has the obligation to make a nomination and the Senate has an obligation to address that nominee.”
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and Gov. Mike DeWine are among other Ohio Republicans who similarly support Trump working to fill the seat this year.
Portman, DeWine and Obhof are all honorary co-chairs to Trump’s Ohio presidential campaign. Obhof was recently a featured speaker at a Trump rally in Toledo.