Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Republicans Vow to Vote on Trump Pick
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell vowed to put President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee to a vote within hours of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death being announced, sparking outrage among Democrats.
Mr McConnell said he would act swiftly, despite the election six weeks away.
In 2016, he blocked President Barack Obama’s pick for the court on the grounds it was an election year.
Joe Biden has insisted a replacement should only take place after the poll.
Ginsburg, 87, died on Friday of metastatic pancreatic cancer at her home in Washington, DC, surrounded by her family.
The second-ever woman to sit on the Supreme Court, she had become a figurehead for liberals in the US, and was an iconic champion of women’s rights.
Supporters gathered outside the court on Friday night to pay tribute to the woman who had become affectionately known as “The Notorious RBG”.
What is the row about?
The appointment of judges in the US is a political one – which means the president gets to choose who is put forward. The Senate then votes to confirm – or reject – the choice.
Ginsburg, who served for 27 years, was one of only four liberals on the nine-seat bench. Her death means that, should the Republicans get the vote through, the balance of power would shift decisively towards the conservatives.
Mr Trump, who has already chosen two Supreme Court justices during his presidency, is well aware that getting his nominee in will mean conservatives will have control over key decisions for decades to come. Justices can serve for life, unless they decide to retire.
At a rally on Friday – before he learned of Ginsburg’s death – he told the crowd whoever won the election “will get one, two, three or four Supreme Court justices”, saying November’s vote was going to be “the most important” in US history.
Mr McConnell said in his statement – which included a tribute to Ginsburg – that “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate”.
The senator had argued in 2016 that “the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice” which meant “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president”.
But now he says the Senate was within its rights to act because it was Republican-controlled, and Mr Trump is a Republican president.
Democrats, however, began echoing Mr McConnell’s words from 2016.
The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, sent a tweet repeating his exact phrase, while Mr Biden told reporters: “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.”
Ginsburg had also made her feelings clear in the days before her death.
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” she wrote in a statement to her granddaughter, according to National Public Radio (NPR).