Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of “complications from metastatic pancreas cancer,” the Supreme Court announced on Friday night. The longtime justice, liberal stalwart, and feminist icon was 87 years old. She reportedly died surrounded by her family at her home in Washington, D.C. The Court also announced that a private interment service will be held for Ginsburg at Arlington National Ceremony.
Chief Justice John Roberts celebrated Ginsburg’s legacy in a statement: “Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”
The political ramifications and response
The ramifications of Ginsburg’s death in the middle of the 2020 campaign are obviously enormous. There are already reports that President Trump will be naming a replacement soon:
Trump also apparently made a veiled reference to the opening at his Friday night campaign rally:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already seemed to abandon the cynical stance he took on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, in 2016. He announced on Friday that Trump’s nominee will receive a full vote in the Senate:
However, it’s not yet clear when that vote will occur — so it could be that McConnell is once again playing games:
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, has already made it clear that the vacancy should not be filled until next year:
The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere offered some more context on the Senate dynamics in a Twitter thread:
The question of whether President Trump will get to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court before the election essentially comes down to four GOP votes in the Senate, deciding whether they want to give that to him, and to break the principle McConnell invented in 2016 [for Merrick Garland.]
Among the senators who will be under intense pressure on this question will be Susan Collins, up for election herself and has struggled with how much to attach herself to Trump, and who said after impeachment she thought Trump had learned his lesson about changing behavior. Murkowski has said she is against an appointment before the inauguration. But that was theoretical. Now it’s real. She’s not up for election this year. Neither is Romney. … But it’s not just senators with races this year. There are more GOP senators than say so publicly who have major problems with Trump and worry about what he means for the future of the party and the country. So: do they back him here when he needs it and could help his victory?
If there are Judiciary Committee hearings on a nominee (if McConnell doesn’t take Trump’s inevitable nominee right to the floor), it will also give a major platform for committee member Kamala Harris right at the height of the campaign.
Senator Murkowski reportedly said in an interview before the news of Ginsburg’s death broke that she will not vote to fill a SCOTUS vacancy until after Election Day, per Alaska Public Media:
Shortly before the announcement that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died Friday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in an interview that if she was presented with a vacancy on the court, she would not vote to confirm a nominee before the election. …
“I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50 some days away from an election,” she said. Murkowski said her reasoning is based on the same reasoning that held up the confirmation of former President Barack Obama’s final nominee to the Supreme Court.
With regards to Senator Susan Collins:
Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch Trump ally, had said in 2018 that the Senate should wait for the election to fill the vacancy:
A complete list of the key GOP senators now under pressure:
Dovere also noted the electoral ramifications, should November’s election result be contested:
[A]n election that gets kicked to the Supreme Court somehow. There would be only eight justices, no tiebreaker if needed - though this leaves a 5-3 conservative majority. Could potentially put Roberts, the institutionalist, under intense pressure.
This is a developing story, and this post will be updated as more information is made available.