- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Reflecting on his past 15 years as the Republican leader in the U.S. Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that his “biggest decision ever made” was preventing the confirmation of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in 2016.

Justice Antonin Scalia‘s sudden death from natural causes in February 2016 prompted then-President Obama to nominate Mr. Garland, a confirmation that Mr. McConnell had the power to block as majority leader at the time.

“In my time as majority leader, the single biggest decision I’ve ever made was actually a decision not to do something,” the Kentucky Republican told supporters during an event in his home state. “And that was to fill a Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Scalia during the 2016 election.”

The move thrilled conservatives but outraged Democrats who accused Mr. McConnell of robbing Mr. Obama of a nominee to the high court.

Mr. McConnell is currently the second longest-serving party leader in the upper chamber. Michael Mansfield, a Montana Democrat who served for 16 years as party leader from 1961 to 1977, currently holds the title — at least for now.

“If I have one more term [as leader] — that’s two years — I’ll break that record, which is something I hope to be able to do,” Mr. McConnell said. “But it’s not just about setting records, it’s not just about how long you’ve been around. It’s whether or not you really made a difference.”

Mr. Scalia‘s seat was eventually filled by conservative Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017, who was nominated by President Trump.

Critics and supporters alike have noted that Mr. McConnell‘s years leading the party and subsequently controlling judicial confirmations under Mr. Trump will impact the country’s court system and consequential legal decisions for decades to come.

• Ramsey Touchberry can be reached at rtouchberry@washingtontimes.com.

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