- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2020

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican facing re-election, said President Donald Trump is “well within his constitutional authority” to nominate someone to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Sullivan, in a statement Tuesday, said he looks forward to “thoroughly assessing” the nominee’s qualifications, “as Alaskans expect me to do.”

Ginsburg died last week. The presidential election is six weeks away.

In 2016, months before the general election to choose the next president, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the high court. The Republican-led Senate refused to take up the nominee. Sullivan, at that time, said the decision to withhold advancement of Garland’s nomination was not “about the individual, it’s about the principle.”

“Alaskans, like all Americans, are in the midst of an important national election. The next Supreme Court justice could fundamentally change the direction of the Court for years to come. Alaskans deserve to have a voice in that direction through their vote, and we will ensure that they have one,” Sullivan said in March 2016.

A Sullivan aide late Monday said Sullivan was traveling and unavailable for an interview on his thoughts on the process for replacing Ginsburg but would release a statement “in the coming days.” His office released his statement Tuesday, in which Sullivan said the “historical precedent and principle of an election year nomination” to the court “is that the Senate has generally confirmed a President’s nominee from its own party.”

Meanwhile, Alaska’s senior U.S. senator, Republican Lisa Murkowski, has said she would not support taking up a potential nomination as the presidential election approached.

“I do not support this process moving forward,” she said, according to Alaska Public Media. “Now, having said that, this process is moving forward with or without me.”

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