Just days before her death Friday evening, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that her “most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” according to an NPR report.
Ginsburg, 87, died of complications from pancreatic cancer, the Court said in a statement. Her death comes less than seven weeks before the 2020 election between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
NPR, which first broke the news of Ginsburg’s passing, reported that the liberal associate justice dictated her wish to her granddaughter Clara Spera.
The new vacancy on the court gives Trump a chance to add another conservative justice to the nine-member bench of the highest court in the United States. Trump has touted his previous nominees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, as being among the major accomplishments of his first term in office.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement Friday night that Trump’s next nominee “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
McConnell said last year that he would seek to confirm another justice to the bench if the opportunity arose, even in an election year.
That statement of intent immediately drew accusations of hypocrisy. In 2016, after the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, McConnell had blocked then-President Barack Obama from filling that vacancy.
“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,” McConnell said in 2016.
After Ginsburg’s death was announced, Senate Minority Leader Chuck SChumer, D-N.Y., tweeted those exact words.
But in his statement Friday, McConnell laid out why he would not wait until after the election to attempt to fill Ginsburg’s seat.
“In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year,” McConnell said.
“By contrast, 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,” he said.