On Friday, former President Barack Obama urged Senate Republicans to wait to fill the vacant Supreme Court Justice seat until after the inauguration seat. The empty seat was created by the death of feminist icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“Four and a half years ago, when Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in,” Obama wrote in a statement.
“A basic principle of the law — and of everyday fairness — is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous at the moment,” he said, adding that the legitimacy of American courts and democracy depends on the equal application of this standard.
“As votes are already being cast in this election, Republican Senators are now called to apply that standard,” Obama said.
Also, on Friday, Obama remembered Ginsburg, who he often admitted to having a “soft spot for.” He praised the “warrior for gender equality” who he said battled to the end with cancer and demonstrated “unwavering faith in our democracy and its ideals.”
In the days before her passing, Ginsburg dictated a statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera, saying, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Obama noted that Ginsburg had left clear “instructions” about how she “wanted her legacy to be honored.”
Obama then added that the questions before the nation’s highest court now and in coming years “are too consequential to future generations for courts to be filled through anything less than an unimpeachable process.”
Just hours after hearing about Ginsburg’s death on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement that Trump’s nominee to the court would “receive a vote” on the Senate floor.
“Americans re-elected 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,” McConnell wrote. “Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
McConnell’s statement is a complete and abrupt reversal from the position he took four years ago when he refused a hearing for Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court following Justice Scalia’s death. At that time McConnell suggested that the incoming President selected by the American people should make the decision who fills the vacated justice seat.
On Friday, Joe Biden called Ginsburg a hero and stated that Ginsburg’s successor should be a choice nominated by whoever wins the presidential election in November.
“Let me be clear: The voters should pick a President, and that President should select a successor to Justice Ginsburg,” Biden tweeted.
Rep. Chuck Schumer also tweeted McConnell’s own words from 2016 verbatim on Friday.
“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 wrote.
On Saturday, protesters gathered outside of Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky home. At least one protester was arrested after a group of about 100 people gathered outside the Kentucky home.
Protesters carried signs that read, “Ruth Sent Us,” and “No Ethics No Shame.”
“Hey-hey, ho-ho, Mitch McConnell has got to go,” protesters chanted. It is unclear if McConnell was at home in Kentucky or in Washington during the protest.
The arrested protester, according to officials, was arrested for disorderly conduct and improper parking, after police determined she used a pharmacy parking lot without planning to patronize the store.
One woman has been arrested at the CVS one block from McConnell’s house. She parked at the CVS, but was not a customer, and police told her they would tow her car. She tried to buy something and then move her car, but police didn’t allow that.— Hayes Gardner (@HayesGardner) September 19, 2020
Here’s an officer: pic.twitter.com/LfDHy6gIeE
After facing the towing of her vehicle, the woman went inside the store and bought a six-pack of beer, however, the police made the decision to arrest her anyway.
The woman’s arrest prompted the other protesters to start chanting, and one member of the crowd kicked a glass door and damaged it.
Police then requested that a group of protesters move their vehicles, which were blocking traffic on a nearby street. They did so without conflict.
Any Supreme Court nominee selected by Trump must win confirmation from the GOP-led Senate before they can become a lifetime appointment. The process includes confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
As a Senate leader, McConnell would determine when or if a vote on a nomination would be held. Democrats and even some Republicans have argued that any vote on a Trump court pick should be delayed until after the presidential election.