Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish, to not be replaced until a new president is installed, was shared by her granddaughter, Clara Spera, to NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg, a longtime friend of RBG. President Trump then dismissed this claim as a hoax made up by Democrats to which Representative Adam Schiff tweeted out, “Mr. President, this is low. Even for you. No, I didn’t write Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish to a nation she served so well, and spent her whole life making a more perfect union.”
Lamentations coming from the GOP after RBG’s passing will not matter if they choose to sit someone before the new president is elected. On Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz blocked an amended resolution that honored RBG’s final wish. He stated that, “Under the Constitution, members of the judiciary do not appoint their own successors.” RBG worked for gender equality and civil rights. President Trump’s nominee, if approved by the Senate, could mean erasing the significance of a landmark case like Roe v. Wade, a case that even Ruth Bader Ginsburg criticized for putting the right to an abortion in the hands of lawmakers rather than women. There is a growing fear among Democrats that a justice appointed by President Trump might cause what Ruth Bader Ginsburg built throughout her career to be taken down.
In 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia passed away. President Barack Obama then named Merrick Garland to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat and, even before the nomination had been given, it was Senator Mitch McConnell who rejected the idea. Senator McConnell claimed that, because it was an election year, the next Supreme Court justice should be elected by the new president. Four years later, not even a day after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, Mitch McConnell declared that President Trump would decide on a nominee and that the Senate would vote on it. What happened to letting the American people decide?
The GOP’s hypocrisy is not at all surprising and if Democrats had a majority, they would probably do the same, but that is not the case right now. In October 2018, Senator Graham said that, in the case that a seat opened up in the Supreme Court during President Trump’s final year, the GOP would wait until a new president was elected. Senator Graham even suggested to use his own words against him if the same scenario were to happen during President Trump’s final term. However, despite his words, he is pushing for a vote in the Senate as well.
This is not about what is best for the country but what is best along party lines. Republicans are well aware of the fact that Joe Biden has had a successful presidential campaign so far which could result in losing the Republican majority in Congress if he were to win. Installing a conservative Supreme Court justice, however, means that many left-leaning laws or precedents could be struck down as new cases come into the courts, even if Trump were to lose, securing some policy-making power for the GOP.
Currently, two Republican senators oppose the Senate taking up the nomination: Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Lisa Murkoswski of Alaska. They agree that the Senate should wait after the election, but the political battle over the Supreme Court will not be an easy one. On Tuesday, President Trump said that he will name his nominee this Saturday, and Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was reported to have said that “nothing is off the table for next year.” There is speculation that Democrats may choose to pack the Supreme Court with more justices as a method to weaken the conservative majority.
The Republican Senate blocked President Obama’s nomination in 2016 just eight months before the election. It is now 2020 and we are five weeks before Nov. 3, Election Day. The composition of the court matters and whether Trump’s nomination is blocked or not, one cannot deny the hypocrisy of the GOP.