The political ramifications of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Friday will likely ripple into November and beyond.
Her death coming in the final two months of the 2020 presidential election will bring up considerable questions on who will replace her, especially given the divided nature of the Supreme Court.
The court, which has seen its share of 5-4 decisions in recent years, could become a reliably conservative court for years to come if President Donald Trump is able to push through a nominee leading up to the election.
Currently the court holds five Republican-appointed justices and three Democratic-appointed justice, but Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed by George W. Bush, has sometimes been a swing vote, siding with the liberals.
But one person who is opposing a last-minute appointment to the bench was apparently Ginsburg herself.
Dictating a statement to family that was released to NPR, Ginsburg said, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
In 2016, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia's death came nine months before the presidential election, and became a focal point of that year's election. President Barack Obama attempted to fill the seat, but Republicans in the Senate blocked the appointment.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reminded Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday of that fact.
“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 tweeted, which were the exact words used by McConnell in 2016.
On Friday, McConnell confirmed that a potential nominee would get a vote in the Senate, but there are questions on whether a potential nominee would have enough support to be confirmed.
"President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate," McConnell said.
McConnell said this situation is different because Republicans control the White House.
"Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary. Once again, we will keep our promise," McConnell said.
Just last week, Trump released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees. That list can be seen here.
Joe Biden agreed with Schumer.
"The voters should pick a President, and that President should select a successor to Justice Ginsburg," Biden said. "This was the position that the Republican Senate took in 2016, when there were nearly nine months before the election. That is the position the United States Senate must take now, when the election is less than two months away. We are talking about the Constitution and the Supreme Court. That institution should not be subject to politics."
HOW A SUPREME COURT JUSTICE IS CONFIRMED
- The president nominates a replacement to be vetted by the Supreme Court.
- After vetting the nominee, the Senate may take a vote to accept the nomination. The vote nomination must have 51 votes in order to pass. If there is a tie, the vice president can vote to break a tie.
- There are 53 Republicans in the US Senate. It would take four Republicans to vote in opposition in order for a potential nominee not to be approved.