President Trump confirmed in a tweet on Saturday morning that he is intending to act swiftly to fill a Supreme Court vacancy following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Friday.
Trump said since the Senate and the White House are both controlled by Republicans then they have an “obligation” to fill the vacancy this year.
“We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices,” Trump tweeted. “We have this obligation, without delay!”
.@GOP We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2020
The comments come as many politicians and political commentators are pointing to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s own words and actions in 2016 when he stopped former President Obama from filling a vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. McConnell said he would not hold the vote in an election year and kept the seat vacant for ten months.
In a Dear Colleague letter, McConnell said he would be holding a vote to confirm the appointee by the year’s end. He cautioned Republicans senators to refrain from speaking to members of the media concerning how they would vote.
“Over the coming days, we are all going to come under tremendous pressure from the press to announce how we will handle the coming nomination,” McConnell wrote in the letter, the Daily Caller reports. “For those of you who are unsure how to answer, or for those inclined to oppose giving a nominee a vote, I urge you all to keep your powder dry.” He urged them not to “lock yourselves into a position you may later regret.”
McConnell also addressed criticisms that he was going back on his own word, dubbed the “McConnell Rule,” for holding a vote during an election year.
He said the rule did not apply: “the Biden rule in 2016, which provided that the Senate would not fill Supreme Court vacancies that arise in president election years when the presidency and the Senate majority are held by opposing parties.”
Axios reports Democrats are calling for Trump and Republicans to delay the decision and to allow the next president to decide:
The big picture: Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have already called on Senate Republicans to adhere to that precedent.
- “[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” Biden said. “This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That’s the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election’s only 46 days off.
- “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, directly quoting McConnell’s 2016 comments after Scalia’s death.
Ginsburg, just days before her death, dictated a statement to her granddaughter in which she said: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” according to NPR.