Iconic Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on September 18 from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. She was 87 years old. Ginsburg was well-known for being a Liberal and feminist judge.
Now, President Trump has the opportunity to fill her seat with his third Conservative Supreme Court Justice, influencing policy for years to come.
Mere hours after her death, senators began to speak publicly about the implications of filling her seat prior to the November election. Many tweeted their support or dissonance on the subject, leaving no question of where they stand on the matter. Most followed party lines in their opinion of holding or waiting for a vote.
Hillary Clinton also chimed in when speaking with CNBC host Rachel Maddow, “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, the monument to hypocrisy that would arise from him attempting to fill this position.”
Clinton, and other Democratic senators, are pointing to McConnell’s failure to enact a vote on Barack Obama’s replacement of Judge Antonin Scalia prior to his leaving office in 2016. At the time, McConnell declared that 2016 was a unique situation in that the Senate and White House were dominated by opposing parties. In 2020, that is no longer the case as Republicans control both of those in the run-up to the 2020 elections.
McConnell explained his rationale for moving forward with a vote for a Donald Trump nominee in his official statement on Ginsburg’s passing: “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. 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. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
When former Justice Antonin Scalia died in February of 2016, Clinton said that allowing his seat to remain vacant would "dishonor our Constitution." She added: "The Senate has a constitutional responsibility here that it cannot abdicate for partisan political reasons."
How the tables have turned. Now, Democratic senators from across the U.S. are falling back on what were reportedly some of Ginsburg’s final words to her granddaughter: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."
Rather than respect their Constitutional duty to elect a new justice in a timely manner, senators like Elizabeth Warren, D-Ma., are calling to “respect Ruthie’s wishes:” “Ruthie’s ‘most fervent wish’ was for her replacement not to be named ‘until a new president is installed.’ We must honor her wish.”
If Democratic senators insist upon waiting until a new president is installed, what is their plan for stalling the vote if Trump wins reelection in November? Certainly they cannot leave the seat open for another four years based on Ruthie’s wishes. With Biden’s lead diminishing in the polls, waiting for a new president may be a very long-term strategy.
It has become increasingly clear that Democrats are more interested in enacting revenge on their Republican colleagues, than in performing their assigned duties as public servants. If McConnell is indeed a hypocrite based on his actions four years ago, what does that make modern-day Democrats?