The intensifying politics of filling the seat of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg


After the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Friday, a political battle over how and when to fill her vacant seat on the nine-person Supreme Court has begun to heat up.

President Trump announced his intention to replace Ginsburg’s seat “without delay!” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Friday called for her replacement to come after the election. Trump said he is expecting to announce his nomination in the next week, most likely on Friday or Saturday, and told a campaign rally that it “will be a woman.” Several Democrats have called the potential nomination of a Supreme Court justice during an election year “hypocritical,” citing how Republicans blocked in 2016 the nomination of then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. Some Democrats have vowed the party will expand the size of the court in retaliation if they capture the White House and Senate in November (NY Times). 

Back in 2016, when Senate Republicans blocked the nomination of then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that voters should get to choose the president and that president should get to pick the next justice. Then-Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, and Obama nominated Garland that March. McConnell has claimed that Garland’s confirmation was unique in that the Senate and executive branch were controlled by different parties. According to National Geographic, there has not been a case since the 1880s in which a senate majority has accepted an opposing President’s nomination for the SCOTUS during an election year. There have been 19 cases in US history in which a senate majority has voted on a President of the same party’s nominee during an election year, 17 of which got accepted. 

According to Justice Ruth Ginsburg’s granddaughter Clara Spera just days before her death, she reportedly said, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new President is installed.” Despite this wish, many Republicans have vowed to move forward with the vote. 

Some verified Twitter users have threatened arson and violence in order to block Republicans from replacing Ginsburg before the elections. A member of Wisconsin’s ethics commission, Scott Ross, ordered Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., to “burn it all down” if he couldn’t stop McConnell. A Canadian political science professor called for arson, prompting accusations he made a terroristic threat. On Sunday, Biden accused Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., of trying to engage in “constitutional abuse” after Ginsburg’s death (Yahoo News). 


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