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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 GinsburgFauci says he was 'absolutely not' surprised Trump got coronavirus after Rose Garden event Push to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Biden owes us an answer on court-packing 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 GarlandPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Biden keeps both sides guessing on court packing Biden town hall questioner worked as speechwriter in Obama administration: report 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 McConnellPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Schumer labels McConnell's scheduled coronavirus stimulus vote as 'a stunt' Pelosi gives White House 48-hour deadline for coronavirus stimulus deal MORE (R-Ky.) said in a statement on Friday night that he will advance a nominee from President TrumpDonald John TrumpPolice say man dangling off Trump Tower Chicago demanding to speak with Trump Fauci says he was 'absolutely not' surprised Trump got coronavirus after Rose Garden event Biden: Trump 'continues to lie to us' about coronavirus 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 GorsuchJudge Barrett's hearing: Democratic senators left holding an empty sack The politics of originalism Barrett refuses to say if she would recuse herself from election-related cases 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 SchumerOcasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts The 2016 and 2020 Senate votes are about the same thing: constitutionalist judges Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a tweet, using McConnell’s exact words from 2016.