President Trump on Saturday said Republicans have an “obligation” to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “without delay.”
The president’s tweet comes after Ginsburg, 87, passed away on Friday from complications surrounding metastatic cancer of the pancreas.
“@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,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning.
“We have this obligation, without delay!” he added.
The president’s statement comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., just hours after Ginsburg’s passing, vowed that a Trump nominee to the Supreme Court “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
“The Senate and the nation mourn the sudden passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the conclusion of her extraordinary American life,” McConnell said in a statement.
“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,” McConnell continued. “Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.”
McConnell added that “by contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary.”
“Once again, we will keep our promise,” he said. “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
But the nomination and confirmation process for the latest addition to the Supreme Court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, took 89 days total for confirmation. It took 57 days from Kavanaugh’s nomination to his confirmation hearing.
There are 44 days until Election Day.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday said Ginsburg’s vacancy should not be filled until “we have a new president.”
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted Friday. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also said Friday that the winner of November’s presidential election should be the person to nominate a successor to Ginsburg.
“There is no doubt, let me be clear, that the voters should pick the president, and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” Biden emphasized as he spoke to reporters Friday night.
In a accompanying statement, the former vice president stressed that “this was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016, when there were nearly 9 months before the election. That is the position the United States Senate must take now, when the election is less than two months away. We are talking about the Constitution and the Supreme Court. That institution should not be subject to politics.”
Biden was referring to the Republican-controlled Senate’s refusal in 2016 — prior to the last presidential election — to consider President Obama’s nominee to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia. McConnell at the time cited the imminent presidential election for not holding any confirmation hearings or votes on the nominee, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland.
But Hans Von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told Fox News that it is not unprecedented for an incumbent president seeking re-election to nominate a judge to the Supreme Court, and be confirmed, prior to Election Day.
“Historically, since 1900, presidents have made five Supreme Court nominations in the year they were running for re-election: Taft in 1912; Wilson in 1916, in fact he had two nominations; Hoover in 1932; and the great hero of the Democratic Party, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, did it in 1940,” Spakovsky told Fox News. “All of those nominations were confirmed.”
He added: “It is not as if this would somehow be unprecedented. …The point is, prior presidents have done it, their nominees have been confirmed, and there is no reason it can’t be done this year, too.”