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Jo Jorgensen Is ‘Fine’ With Filling SCOTUS Vacancy Before Election

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Libertarian presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen says there’s nothing wrong with Republicans confirming a replacement for late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election.

In fact, if she was president, she would do the same thing.

“I’m fine with having a vote now,” Jorgensen told Reason on Tuesday night in Virginia. “I’m running for president because I can best lead the country, and if it were me, I would certainly put my nominee forth.”

Jorgensen has been darkly amused by the partisan bickering over whether President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) are doing the right thing by trying to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Ginsburg’s would-be replacement, before the election. In 2016, of course, Senate Republicans refused to consider then-President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, while Democrats pushed for the seat to be filled. This time around, everyone is playing the opposite role.

“It’s just politics as usual,” says Jorgensen.

As a third-party candidate, Jorgensen is running against politics as usual. If she had the chance to nominate someone to the Supreme Court, Jorgensen says she would look for candidates who recognize limits on the federal government’s authority, and who defend both individual liberty and property rights.

A list of prospective Supreme Court nominees released by Jorgensen’s campaign includes many preeminent libertarian legal scholars—some of whom will be familiar to Reason readers—and judges. One of her picks, Judge Don Willett of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, also appears on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist.

The list originally included Alan Dershowitz, the retired Harvard law professor who was a member of the president’s impeachment defense team earlier this year. The campaign removed his name after it caused “a controversy,” Jorgensen acknowledged Tuesday.

Barrett’s name is not on Jorgensen’s list, and the Libertarian candidate says she would have picked someone “with a longer track record who more clearly come down on the side of liberty over government authority.”

Still, when it comes to Trump’s nominee, Jorgensen praises Barrett’s textualist approach and says she trusts the judge to uphold “the Second Amendment, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and enumerated powers” if she ends up on the nation’s highest court. Jorgensen sees Barrett as improvement over Trump’s last pick, Justice Brett Kavanuagh—who has been criticized by libertarians for his expansive views of government surveillance powers and his opinion of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

But as a matter of procedure, Jorgensen has no qualms about filling the seat.

“The Constitution allows it,” she says.

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