Obama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election

Former President Obama called on the Senate not to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgBill would honor Ginsburg, O'Connor with statues at Capitol Supreme Court's approval rating dips to 49 percent  Anti-abortion movement eyes its holy grail MORE on Friday, urging Republicans to live up to the standard they set in 2016 when they refused to give a hearing to his final nominee, Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandDOJ sues Texas over Abbott order restricting transportation of migrants Graham, Cuellar press Biden to name border czar Garland floats legal action over Abbott immigration order MORE.

Obama, in a statement responding to Ginsburg's death, praised the late judge as a "warrior for gender equality" who showed "unwavering faith in our democracy and its ideals."

The former president also nodded to Ginsburg's reported statement to her granddaughter before her death that her "most fervent wish" was that her replacement be named by the next president. Ginsburg died earlier Friday. She was 87.

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"Four and a half years ago, when Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in," Obama said.

"A basic principle of the law — and of everyday fairness — is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment," he continued. "The rule of law, the legitimacy of our courts, the fundamental workings of our democracy all depend on that basic principle.

"As votes are already being cast in this election, Republican Senators are now called to apply that standard," Obama said.

The court's decisions in the coming years "are too consequential to future generations for courts to be filled through anything less than an unimpeachable process," the former president said.

Obama's statement was a nod to the political ramifications of Ginsburg's death less than 50 days before the election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE (R-Ky.) said in a statement on Friday night that he will advance a nominee from President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE.

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Trump, who was on stage at a campaign rally in Minnesota when news broke that Ginsburg had died, has not commented on whether he plans to put forward a nominee. Sources close to the administration expect Trump to do so, however.

Democrats and progressive outside groups quickly called for Ginsburg’s seat to be held open until next year, similar to McConnell’s decision to not hold a vote for Garland. Obama nominated Garland after Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, but Republicans held the seat open until 2017 and confirmed Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchNo reason to pack the court Democrats under new pressure to break voting rights stalemate Trump 'very disappointed' in Kavanaugh votes: 'Where would he be without me?' MORE, Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee.

"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," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session Senate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal An August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a tweet, using McConnell’s exact words from 2016.