U.S. President Donald Trump waves prior to boarding Air Force One as he departs Washington for campaign travel to Minnesota at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, September 18, 2020.
Tom Brenner | Reuters
President Donald Trump on Saturday said he wants to move “without delay” to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a conservative nominee. The president’s statement follows Ginsburg’s death on Friday evening.
Trump tweeted that Republicans “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!”
Trump is expected to quickly name a conservative replacement. Only an hour after the Supreme Court announced Ginsburg’s death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday pledged he will hold a vote on Trump’s eventual nominee to fill the vacancy. McConnell said last year he would seek to confirm a Trump nominee if a vacancy opened, despite vowing during President Barack Obama’s presidency to refuse any appointments during an election year.
Ginsburg’s death has set up a contentious political battle that could define the makeup of the nation’s highest judicial body for a generation to come, providing Trump an opportunity to place a third member on the Court just weeks before the November election.
The Supreme Court had a 5-4 majority of Republican appointed justices, and a 6-3 GOP majority could transform the shape of the law and maintain a conservative majority for years.
The now vacant seat on the court also raises the stakes in an already chaotic presidential campaign between Trump and former Vice President Joseph Biden, which has been defined by the worst public health crisis in a century, the deepest economic recession since the Great Depression and widespread social unrest over racial inequality and policing in America.
Ginsburg, a feminist icon who championed women’s rights, was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 and vowed to remain as long as her health allowed. Ginsburg told her granddaughter before she died that her “most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Trump has touted his previous nominees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, as major accomplishments of his first term as president.
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