Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at age 87 on Friday, Sept. 18, after 27 years on the Supreme Court and many more fighting for gender and voting equality under the belief that “equal justice under law only had meaning if it applied to every single American,” in the words of former President Barack Obama. The Notorious RBG’s legacy is indelible, but her seat on the Supreme Court must be filled, so now the question is, who will replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
Will Trump replace RBG?
President Donald Trump will propose a nominee to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court in the coming days, ABC News reports, citing multiple sources close to the president.
And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — who famously blocked Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland in 2016 because it was an election year — said on Sept. 18 that he will support Trump in filling Ginsburg’s seat this year.
“Americans reelected 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. Once again, we will keep our promise,” McConnell said in a press release, per BuzzFeed News. “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
For his part, Trump seemed surprised to hear of Ginsburg passing as he left a campaign rally in Minnesota on Friday night. “Wow. I didn’t know that. I just — you’re telling me now for the first time,” he told reporters.
The president, who tweeted in 2016 that Ginsburg’s mind was “shot,” called her “amazing” at the rally stop on Friday. “She led an amazing life,” he said. “What else can you say? She was an amazing woman. Whether you agree or not, she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life. I’m actually sad to hear that. I am sad to hear that.”
Who will Trump nominate to replace Ginsburg?
During a rally on Friday night, Trump — who evidently hadn’t yet heard the news of Ginsburg’s passing — named Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as a potential Supreme Court nominee, joking that Cruz’s colleagues would be happy to see him go.
“I have to have somebody that we’re going to make sure we get approved,” he said, according to The New York Times. “The only one I can think of is Ted because he’s going to get 50 Republican votes and he’s going to get 50 Democrat votes — they’ll do anything to get him out of the Senate.”
A Washington Post analysis names other likely candidates: Amy Coney Barrett, a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Britt Grant and Barbara Lagoa, judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit; Joan Larsen, a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Other potential candidates, according to The Washington Post, include: Allison Eid, a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; Amul Thapar, a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; and U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri.) and Mike Lee (Utah).
In any case, Trump's and McConnell’s plans to replace Ginsburg face stiff opposition from Democrats, including Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.“
"The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” Biden said on Friday, per the Times. “This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That’s the position that the United States Senate must take today, and the election’s only 46 days off.”
In his statement, Obama said Republicans “invented the principle that the Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in” and that the law mandates that “we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment.”