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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 GinsburgSenate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Democratic senator votes against advancing Amy Coney Barrett nomination while wearing RBG mask GOP clears key hurdle on Barrett's Supreme Court nomination, setting up Monday confirmation 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 Brian GarlandSenate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination GOP clears key hurdle on Barrett's Supreme Court nomination, setting up Monday confirmation Senators battle over Supreme Court nominee in rare Saturday session 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 McConnellSenate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Trump looms over Ernst's tough reelection fight in Iowa Democratic senator votes against advancing Amy Coney Barrett nomination while wearing RBG mask MORE (R-Ky.) said in a statement on Friday night that he will advance a nominee from President TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' 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 GorsuchSupreme Court's Pennsylvania mail ballot tie tees up test for Barrett 51 percent want Barrett seated on Supreme Court: poll Supreme Court denies GOP bid to block extended mail ballot due date in Pennsylvania 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 SchumerGraham dismisses criticism from Fox Business's Lou Dobbs Lewandowski: Trump 'wants to see every Republican reelected regardless of ... if they break with the president' Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a tweet, using McConnell’s exact words from 2016.