With news of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg now ailing, comes conjecture about the court’s future. From The Hill:
Senate Republicans are conflicted about what to do if a Supreme Court seat becomes vacant during the remainder of President Donald Trump‘s first term, a possibility that has come more into focus in recent weeks in light of Justice Ginsburg’s health problems.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated earlier this year, “If you’re asking me a hypothetical … we would fill it.” Though Alaskan Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski claimed that confirming a Trump nominee to the high court would create a “double standard” for them.
“When Republicans held off Merrick Garland it was because nine months prior to the election was too close, we needed to let people decide. And I agreed to do that. If we now say that months prior to the election is OK when nine months was not, that is a double standard and I don’t believe we should do it. So I would not support it.”
Yet Daniel Goldberg, legal director of the liberal advocacy group Alliance for Justice Action Campaign argued, “It would be outrageous to go back on their purported principles.” Plus he added, “It was not just keeping Merrick Garland off the bench, it was keeping a highly regarded, eminently qualified jurist who enjoyed broad bipartisan support, who was recommended by Orrin Hatch, off the bench.”
Head of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced, “We’ve got to see where the market is, what other senators think. I’d like to get input from my colleagues.” Then concluded, “I don’t know. we’ll see. I hope everybody stays healthy on the Supreme Court and we don’t have to worry about it.”
Senate Republican Whip John Thune of South Dakota declared a vacancy should be filled “if the vacancy were to occur pre-election.” In addition, “If the election is over and the president is still the president, then I think it’s fair game. If there was a change in administration, obviously you got a lame-duck administration. That’s perhaps is a different scenario.”
While Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) expressed, “We do not have a vacancy on the Supreme Court. All nine justices are alive.” In the meantime, Justice Ginsburg said last month that a chemotherapy course is “yielding positive results” and she would stay on the court. “I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam. I remain fully able to do that,” she affirmed.