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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 GinsburgRuth Bader Ginsburg, George Floyd among options for 'Remember the Titans' school's new name Bipartisan anger builds over police failure at Capitol Lindsey Graham praises Merrick Garland as 'sound choice' to serve as attorney general 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 GarlandBiden's new challenge: Holding Trump accountable Graham says he'll back Biden's CIA pick A Democratic agenda for impossibly hard times 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 McConnellTrump seeks to freeze .4 billion of programs in final week of presidency McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Murkowski blasts Trump's election claims, calls House impeachment appropriate MORE (R-Ky.) said in a statement on Friday night that he will advance a nominee from President TrumpDonald TrumpEx-Trump lawyer Cohen to pen forward for impeachment book Murkowski says it would be 'appropriate' to bar Trump from holding office again Man known as 'QAnon Shaman' asks Trump for pardon after storming Capitol 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 GorsuchBiden to introduce Garland as attorney general, other top DOJ nominees Biden to name Merrick Garland for attorney general Supreme Court rejects Christian school's push for COVID-19 carve-out 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 SchumerNikki Haley unveils PAC ahead of possible 2024 White House bid Trump calls for 'NO violence' amid concerns of threats around inauguration Amazon cites death threats in push to keep Parler offline MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a tweet, using McConnell’s exact words from 2016.