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Transcript: Roy Blunt on "Face the Nation"

CBSNews
·6 mins read

The following is a transcript of an interview with Missouri Senator Roy Blunt that aired Sunday, September 20, 2020, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back with Missouri Senator Roy Blunt. He is part of the Republican leadership in the Senate and he joins us now from Capitol Hill. Good morning to you, Senator.

SENATOR ROY BLUNT: Morning, MARGARET. How are you this morning? 

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm doing very well. You know, there was so much heartfelt outpouring in the wake of Justice Ginsburg death, really from across the political spectrum. And then within hours, we heard her dying wish, as relayed to her granddaughter, was that it- it be held up, her replacement, until there is a new president. Why is that being ignored?

SEN. BLUNT: Well, first of all, I wish we did have more time to celebrate Justice Gin- Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was amazing. Had an amazing life. Very smart, very determined, very dedicated to the job. You know, in recent years, she's more often been in dissent rather than in the majority. But when she was in dissent, the majority had to be at their very best to explain why their opinion was what their opinion was. And so she served the country well. A brilliant mind made a difference in our country. You know, from the point of view of that dying wish to her granddaughter, of course, that is totally reasonable to understand that she'd rather have- be replaced by a president that might be of the same party that nominated her to start with. But the Constitution is the Constitution. And, you know, it takes two things to replace a Supreme Court judge: one is the president has to nominate and two is the Senate has to determine that they want to deal with that issue at that time. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SEN. BLUNT: And I don't know that- even with President Obama I said not only will he nominate a replacement in this vacancy, but he probably has a constitutional obligation, just like President Trump does today, to make a nomination-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SEN. BLUNT: --and President Trump will.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well can and should or different. But back in 2016, you- you refused to even meet with President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland. And you said at the time, Americans will be voting in just a few months and that election should help determine the next member of the Supreme Court. Why has your position changed? Is it simply because Republicans are in power?

SEN. BLUNT: Well, I also said at the time, several times, exactly what I just said to you, which is two things have to happen for a person to go on the Supreme Court. And in the tradition of the country, when the Senate and the president were in political agreement, no matter what was the election situation, the judges went on the Court and other courts. When they weren't in agreement, they didn't. And we were in a situation in 2016 where the White House was controlled by one party, the Senate by another. And the referee in that case was going to be the American people. In this case, both the- the White House and the Senate have some obligation to do what they think in the majority in the Senate is the right thing to do. And there is a Senate majority put there by voters--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SEN. BLUNT: --for reasons like this. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: So--

SEN. BLUNT: And I said that over and over again in 2016. I checked the record on this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm sure you did, because, you know, and you're hearing all these cries of hypocrisy. But just assuming that we're charging ahead, as you just laid out, and- voting is already away- underway in a number of states in this country. When it comes to the hearings, should we expect this nominee who we- whose name will get in the next few days, according to President Trump, should we expect the hearings to start before November 3rd?

SEN BLUNT: You know, I don't know. That'll be up to when we- when we get the nominee, what kind of vetting needs to be done--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it'll be this week.

SEN. BLUNT: Well if we get it this week, what kind of vetting needs to be done and then what Chairman Graham decides he can do. This should take as long as it needs to take. It shouldn't--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So he hasn't agreed to do a hearing before Election Day is what I hear you saying? 

SEN. BLUNT: I haven't- I haven't- well, I haven't heard that. I haven't heard that if he has. This should take as long as it needs to take, but no longer. There is plenty of time to get this done. But to get it done before Election Day, everything has to work, I think, pretty precisely. There- Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed, nominated and confirmed, in 40 days. Other justices have taken longer than that. And I don't know how this process will move forward.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SEN. BLUNT: But I- I do know that the Constitution prevails here in terms of how we do this. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: On- you said speed is a big factor here. Judge Barrett has been through a- a process before the Senate- Senate Judiciary before.  She's met with the president before. She's got active paperwork. She was mentioned yesterday by the president. You voted for her in the past. Does she have a leg up in this process?

SEN. BLUNT: Well, I don't know if she does or not. I- I voted for in the past. I'd be pleased to vote for her as a justice on the Supreme Court. I- I have read a list of nominees, almost all justice- judges, almost all recently confirmed that had an experience that led to confirmation, some of them different than others. But- but clearly, if the president nominates somebody who has already gone through this process once, that makes the process more speedy than it would be otherwise.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And is that a better argument than, say, selecting someone from a key state like Florida? As President Trump mentioned yesterday, Judge Lagoa. He pointed out she's a Florida Hispanic, praised her. Do you need that?

SEN. BLUNT: Well, the- the president has to make that decision. I think she got 80 votes maybe when she was confirmed. She certainly got a substantial majority. And there are good choices out there. I'm sure the president is going to make one. I look forward to the name he sends up and what they may add to the court.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Senator Blunt, thank you for your time. We'll be right back with more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.

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