In this May 7, 2020 photo, Sen. Dan Sullivan wears a mask at a hearing in Washington. Sullivan’s office released a statement Monday saying the senator would support a confirmation vote to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court even in an election year. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP, File)

In this May 7, 2020 photo, Sen. Dan Sullivan wears a mask at a hearing in Washington. Sullivan’s office released a statement Monday saying the senator would support a confirmation vote to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court even in an election year. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP, File)

Sullivan: I look forward to seeing who the President nominates

Senator says he’s following historical precedent, Senate

This article has been updated to include new information from Sen. Dan Sullivan’s office.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, released a statement Tuesday saying he would support holding a confirmation vote for an appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court, even in an election year.

“The historical precedent and principle of an election year nomination to the Supreme Court, dating back to the founding of our republic, is that the Senate has generally confirmed a President’s nominee from its own party and not confirmed one from the opposing party,” Sullivan said in a statement. “President Trump is well within his constitutional authority to nominate an individual for the Supreme Court vacancy, and the Senate will undertake its advice and consent responsibilities on confirmation, as authorized by the Constitution.

“I have a long record of voting to confirm judges to the federal judiciary who will interpret the law, not make new law and who will respect the values of Alaskans, particularly as it relates to a robust respect for the Second Amendment, access to our lands, the rights of Alaska Natives, and a skeptical view of the power of federal agencies,” Sullivan continued. “I look forward to seeing who the President nominates and thoroughly assessing her or his qualifications for this important role, as Alaskans expect me to do.”

[Eyes turn to Alaska’s senators amid Supreme Court vacancy]

Those comments stand in contrast to ones he made in 2016, when then-President Barack Obama put forward Merrick Garland as a Supreme Court nominee.

“The President has the constitutional authority to nominate and the U.S. Senate has the authority to advise and consent. The decision to withhold advancement of Mr. Garland’s nomination isn’t about the individual, it’s about the principle,” he said in 2016. “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.”

In an email, Sullivan spokesperson Michael Soukup explained the difference between the two vacancies.

Sullivan, Soukup wrote, “believes Alaskans deserve the chance to weigh in on an election-year nomination dispute between a President and Senate of different parties with very different visions for the direction of the Court. That was the case in 2016. It is not the case now, given that Alaskans and the American people elected a Republican president and an expanded Republican Senate majority.”

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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