With just six weeks until Americans choose a president, a SCOTUS vacancy has made the stakes of the election higher than ever. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to sit on the country’s highest court, died Friday at age 87.
A liberal icon who supported equal rights and abortion rights, Ginsburg reportedly said her dying wish was to not be replaced until the next president was selected. But a battle is now underway to fill Ginsburg’s seat before the November 3 election.
“This is an explosive political moment,” writes Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “This has set up an epic and historic battle in what was already a contentious election.” Ginsburg’s death, he says, has “fundamentally shifted the entire narrative around the 2020 election.” America is engaged not just in “a battle for the White House,” Mohler says, but “a battle for the balance of power in all branches of government.”
President Trump Wants to Move Quickly on Filling SCOTUS Vacancy
President Trump, a Republican who in his first term has already named two Supreme Court justices, is urging the Republican-controlled Senate to quickly confirm his next nominee. “We have this obligation, without delay!” the president tweeted on Saturday.
Trump says he expects to announce his next pick by Friday or Saturday, allowing time to “pay respect” to Ginsburg. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans will “keep our promise” by giving Trump’s nominee “a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
On “Fox & Friends” Monday, Trump said it’s his constitutional duty to fill the vacant seat, and he downplayed talk that Democrats might try to impeach him to block the confirmation. The president also cast doubt on Ginsburg’s dying wish, saying, “I don’t know that she said that, or was that written out by Adam Schiff and [Chuck] Schumer and [Nancy] Pelosi?”
During the past four decades, confirmation of Supreme Court justices has taken an average of 70 days. But Trump expressed confidence that moving quickly is possible—and is the correct thing to do. “The bottom line is we won the  election,” he said. “We have an obligation to do what’s right and act as quickly as possible.”
At a rally in North Carolina Saturday, Trump called Ginsburg “a legal giant” and promised to replace her with a female justice. Rally attendees, meanwhile, cheered, “Fill that seat!”
Democrats Cry Foul
In February 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon who’d served on the Supreme Court for 30 years, died more than 10 months before the presidential election. Although President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace him, Senate Republicans blocked the vote. In April 2017, Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch filled Scalia’s seat.
McConnell said back in 2016, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” Also in 2016, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, now chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “I want you to use my words against me: If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey O. Graham said, ‘Let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.’”