Lawmakers gear up for debate over new Supreme Court justice
UPDATED 3:30 PM PT – Saturday, September 19, 2020
Following the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. lawmakers began to debate who should replace her. A partisan divide is already forming over the matter ahead of this year’s general election, which is just two months away.
The 87-year-old passed away on Friday after a long battle with cancer. American citizens and political leaders from both ends of the political spectrum came together to mourn her.
As lawmakers acknowledged the tragedy of her passing, they also noted the urgency of filling the vacant seat in the country’s top court.
While Ginsburg was alive, Republicans held a five to four majority in the court. Now, officials must decide who has the power to nominate her replacement.
The decision lies between selecting a nominee before the election or holding off until after the 2020 winner is announced.
On Saturday, President Trump said the GOP has an obligation to choose a Supreme Court justice.
.@GOP We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2020
Later that day, the President reaffirmed the necessity of filling the empty seat and suggested his choice of nominee will likely be announced before the election.
“We have an obligation to the voters, the millions of people that put us here in the form of a victory,” he stated. “We’re working with all of the Republican senators and we’ll be making a decision soon.”
Just in – #Trump says nominee to fill #SupremeCourt vacancy will “most likely” be a woman and may be announced next week.
Money is on #amyconeybarrett as nominee to replace #RuthBaderGinsburg pic.twitter.com/Gd0BaA3iMp
— Suzanne Lynch (@suzannelynch1) September 19, 2020
Several Republicans have voiced it is within his jurisdiction as the sitting President to nominate Supreme Court justices, and are therefore pushing to vote on President Trump’s pick.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been a major proponent of this so far. He is planning to bring a vote to the Senate floor before the election.
The Senate and the nation mourn the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the conclusion of her extraordinary American life.
My full statement: pic.twitter.com/NOwYLhDxIk
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) September 19, 2020
Sen. Ted Cruz has even suggested President Trump should pick a justice within the next week. According to the lawmaker, Americans voted for President Trump to nominate a justice and voted for a Republican Senate to confirm his pick.
Meanwhile, several Democrats have voiced opposition to nominating a replacement before the election. This comes as part of an effort to leave the seat open for a potential Biden nominee, if the Democrat wins the election.
The former vice president weighed in on the matter shortly after Ginsburg’s passing.
“The voters should pick the president, and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” he said. “This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016, when we were almost 10 months to go before the election.”
Republicans have pointed out this election is different, as both the White House and Senate are controlled by the same party.
With the GOP controlling the Senate 53 to 47, President Trump’s nominee would likely pass through the upper chamber if lawmakers do decide to hold a vote.
In response, Sen. Ed Markey has proposed creating additional seats on the Supreme Court and eliminating the filibuster, should Democrats gain Senate control this November.