The Notorious RPG has been Promoted to a Higher Court.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18, 2020 from complications of pancreatic cancer. She was 87 years old. She was nominated as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton on June 14, 1993 and confirmed by the Senate on August 3rd of the same year. Justice Ginsburg served on the court for 27 years.
Justice Ginsburg died 46 days before election day. From her deathbed, she dictated her final statement to her lawyer granddaughter, Clara Spera:
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Shortly after Justice Ginsburg’s death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted his official statement:
Take special note of that last sentence: President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate. Then, listen to what he and other Republican Senators said when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia 237 days before the 2016 Presidential election.
By the time President Trump’s nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed on April 7, 2017, Justice Scalia’s seat had been vacant for 419 days.
Almost certainly, President Trump will nominate Justice Ginsburg’s replacement by the end of September. It is politically expedient for him to do so. If the Senate follows traditional procedures, the nominee will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee before the nomination is brought to the floor for a vote. The members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are:
The terms of 35 Senators expire this election year. Four of them are retiring. Some may not be re-elected. All will participate in any floor vote held before the 117th Congress convenes on January 3, 2021. Eight of them (highlighted below) are also members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
There is one other member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and 116th Congress who may not be a member of the 117th Congress. She is neither running for re-election to the Senate no retiring. Kamala Harris is running for the office of Vice President of the United States of America.
President Trump has said that he will name a nominee to replace Justice Ginsburg sometime this week. He has said that the nominee will be a woman. He will almost certainly follow up on the first statement. He believes it will increase his popularity and chance of re-election. Unless he believes it will help his campaign, he may ignore the second.
There are several paths that the nominee’s appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee might take. Lindsey Graham is the committee’s chairman. Senator Graham is in a tight re-election race. If he believes that a hasty vetting is to his advantage, the hearing will be as short as the Committee’s rules permit. If he believes that the voters of South Carolina will hold him to his 2016 statement, he will drag his heels. If he and Mitch McConnell are aiming for a floor vote by the lame duck Senate between election day and January 3rd, we’ll see the same pattern we have seen since 2017 … probing questions from the Democrats while the Republicans play softball.
After President Trump nominates and Senator Graham’s Judiciary Committee vets the candidate for the Supreme Court, it’s Senate Majority Leader’s turn to bring the nomination to the Senate for final approval. He may or may not do so. Like the President, Mitch McConnell will do anything to win. Unlike Donald, who claims victory regardless of the facts, Mitch prefers to make sure he really does win. Until he believes that he has the votes, the nomination is likely to sit on his desk gathering dust along with other bills and questions that he either cannot get through the Senate or wants to suppress (like the House’s “Heroes Act“).
A nomination to the Supreme Court requires 51 votes to pass. Senate Republicans hold 53 of the 100 seats. Done deal, right? Not necessarily. Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have said that the election is too close for a floor vote on a Supreme Court nominee. If they stand by their statements, they will either vote against the nominee or abstain. That helps, but it’s still 51 for and 49 (or 47) against.
The Arizona Senate race is different from the other contests. It is a special election to finish John McCain’s term. The winner will become a member of the Senate as soon as the vote is certified. If Democrat Mark Kelly beats Republican Martha McSally … and the floor vote is delayed until after the election, the vote is 50-50. Vice President Pence would have to cast the deciding vote. Guess how he would vote. We still need one more to stop this hypocritical fiasco.
The names and contact information for each state’s senators are available on the Senate’s website at:
If you believe that what was done when Justice Scalia died in 2016 is what should be done after the death of his friend Justice Ginsburg in 2020, call or e-mail your senators. Remember what Senator Lindsey Graham said (even if he doesn’t).