Republicans and Democrats Battle Over Supreme Court Nomination Following Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Democrats and Republicans have begun a fierce battle over the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Ginsburg, an iconic liberal justice on America’s highest court, died due to complications from pancreatic cancer on Friday, the Supreme Court said in a statement.
She dictated a statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera while on her deathbed: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg told Spera, reported NPR.
Following Ginsburg’s death, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said whichever candidate wins the November election should select her replacement.
“The voters should pick a president, and that president should select a successor to Justice Ginsburg,” the former vice president said in a statement.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the vacancy left by Ginsburg “should not be filled until we have a new president,” a view held by other top Senate Democrats.
Former President Barack Obama shared the same view, pointing to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocking his nominee, Merrick Garland, in 2016.
Garland was nominated to replace Justice Antonin Scalia after he died.
Republicans said that they wouldn’t consider Obama’s nominee because they felt the vacancy should be filled by whomever won the 2016 election.
McConnell said Friday the situation was different then because the Senate and the presidency were held by different parties. Republicans currently control both.
“In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year,” he wrote in a statement right after Ginsburg’s death.
“President [Donald] Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) didn’t say when the vacancy should be filled. In a statement, she said Ginsberg’s successor should uphold “her commitment to equality, opportunity, and justice for all” to honor the late justice’s legacy.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Senate Democrats to use every possible procedural obstacle to stop the GOP’s efforts to replace Ginsburg.
“The Democrats who are in the Senate will have to use every single possible maneuver that is available to them to make it clear that they are not going to permit Mitch McConnell to enact the greatest travesty, a monument to hypocrisy that would arise from him attempting to fill this position,” she said during an interview with MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
Some Republicans rallied behind McConnell to push filling the Supreme Court vacancy before the Election Day.
“This U.S. Senate should vote on President Trump’s next nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court,” Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) wrote in a statement.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) warned that there will be a constitutional crisis if Republicans fail to do this.
“We cannot have Election Day come and go with a four-four court,” Cruz said during an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity. “A four-four court that is equally divided cannot decide anything. And I think we risk a constitutional crisis if we do not have a nine-justice Supreme Court, particularly when there is such a risk of a contested election.”
Trump hailed Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a “brilliant mind” in a statement Friday evening, praising her for demonstrating “that one can disagree without being disagreeable toward one’s colleagues of different points of view.”
The president also ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House and all public buildings and grounds to honor the late justice.
He didn’t mention filling the vacancy in his statement.
The views of some key Republican players in this battle are still unclear.
Several top Republicans and some swing votes in the Senate, including Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), haven’t said whether they support replacing Ginsburg before the election.