What a difference a president makes.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement Wednesday and Republican President Donald Trump is expected to nominate a replacement.
Citing 2016, when Republicans blocked then-President Barack Obama's nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, some Democrats are calling on the Senate to delay a vote on Kennedy's potential replacement until after the midterm elections this November.
The Senate never voted on Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland. Instead, they waited until after the presidential election to appoint Trump's nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
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Without acknowledging that history or offering a timeline for replacing Kennedy, North Carolina's senators — both Republicans — on Wednesday offered no indication they intend to wait.
Sen. Richard Burr praised Kennedy in a statement and said: "The Senate will now do its job by considering and voting to confirm the President’s nominee to fill this vacancy. It is imperative that we maintain a Supreme Court committed to upholding the Constitution and to interpreting our laws as they are written."
Before the 2016 elections, Burr said he'd try to block any Supreme Court nominee from Hillary Clinton if she were elected president.
"If Hillary becomes president, I’m going to do everything I can do to make sure that four years from now, we’re still going to have an opening on the Supreme Court,” Burr said in a leaked recording from a private gathering.
Burr's office declined to comment beyond his original statement.
Sen. Thom TIllis said in 2016 the Senate shouldn't appoint the nominee of a "lame duck" president in an election year. "That is why the Senate will be keeping its promise to give the American people a voice," he wrote.
Tillis said Wednesday, "I look forward to carefully examining the nominee put forth by the President to fill the vacancy in the coming months."
The North Carolina Democratic Party took issue with Burr's reaction, in particular.
“Senator Burr is in lock step with Senate Leader (Mitch) McConnell and a cynical, partisan, and broken Republican Congress that would rather disrespect voters across the county than hold themselves to their own standard," said Robert Howard, NC Democratic Party spokesman.
"We should follow the precedent set by Senator McConnell and not confirm any new justice until the American people have made their voices heard in four months," Howard said.
Rep. David Price, a Democrat who represents Durham, Wake and Orange counties, also referred to 2016 in calling for a delay.
In a statement Wednesday, Price said, "When President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court 33 weeks before a national election, (Senate leader) Mitch McConnell stated 'The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.'"
"Now, Justice Kennedy has retired a mere 19 weeks before a national election," Price said. "As a House member, I do not have the right to vote on confirmations of Supreme Court Justices, but I believe the Senate should follow the precedent set by the Majority Leader and forgo a vote on a confirmation until after the midterm elections. To rush a Trump nominee to a vote would be totally inconsistent and hypocritical.”
In 2016, Price said in a statement that he applauded Obama's nomination of Garland. "The President has fulfilled his constitutional duty, and the Senate must now do the same," he wrote.
On Thursday, McConnell responded on the Senate floor to calls for delay. He noted the difference between presidential and midterm elections.
"This is not 2016. There aren’t the final months of a second-term, constitutionally lame-duck presidency with a presidential election fast approaching," he said. "We're right in the middle of this president’s very first term."