Senate

Schumer: Ruth Bader Ginsburg seat should be filled by next president

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Friday night that the Senate should wait until next year to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death.

“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,” Schumer said in a tweet.

Schumer’s tweet comes less than an hour after news broke that Ginsburg had died Friday at 87, throwing a landmine into an already chaotic presidential election year.

Schumer’s tweet is a word-for-word copy of a statement Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) released in 2016 after the election-year death of the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

It also points to the looming battle over whether Senate Republicans will try to fill the seat in an election year, after leaving Scalia’s seat open until 2017 when President Trump appointed and the GOP-controlled Senate confirmed Justice Neil Gorsuch.

McConnell, who is up for reelection, has vowed that he will try to fill an open seat. His office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about Ginsburg’s passing.

“If you’re asking me a hypothetical … we would fill it,” McConnell told Fox News in February.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), who is facing a tough election in November, became the first senator to explicitly call for the seat to be filled this year.

“Our country’s future is at stake & @realDonaldTrump has every right to pick a new justice before the election. I look forward to supporting a strict constructionist who will protect the right to life & safeguard our conservative values,” tweeted Loeffler, who took office in January.

But a handful of Republicans have been non-committal about if they would support filing an election-year vacancy, though they will likely face intense pressure from conservative activists and their own colleagues to do so. With a 53-47 majority, McConnell could lose three GOP senators and still let Vice President Pence break a tie.

“When Republicans held off Merrick Garland it was because nine months prior to the election was too close, we needed to let people decide. And I agreed to do that. If we now say that months prior to the election is OK when nine months was not, that is a double standard and I don’t believe we should do it,” Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R-Alaska) said earlier this year.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) indicated to The New York Times earlier this month that she also would not support filling a Supreme Court vacancy in the final weeks before an election, and would oppose filing the seat in the lame duck if the president lost in November.

“I think that’s too close, I really do,” she said.

According to the Congressional Research Service it takes an average of nearly 70 days for a Supreme Court nomination to be confirmed from the time they are nominated. That would put a confirmation vote on Ginsburg’s successor, if Republicans move forward, during the end-of-year lame duck session.

Updated at 8:42 p.m.

Tags Charles Schumer Donald Trump Ginsburg death Kelly Loeffler Merrick Garland Mitch McConnell Neil Gorsuch Ruth Bader Ginsburg Supreme Court Supreme Court nominee Susan Collins

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