Half of Republicans Say New Justice Should Be Picked by Whoever Wins the Election
Democrats and Republicans think U.S. leaders should wait to confirm a new justice. In a poll conducted over the weekend by Reuters and Ipsos, 62 percent of respondents said that picking a Supreme Court justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg—who passed away on Friday—should be left to whoever wins the presidential election in November. This was the position of around 50 percent of the Republicans polled and 80 percent of the Democrats.
It is not the position of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said the Senate will vote on a Trump replacement nominee by the end of the year.
“There are obvious incentives for the GOP to try to ram through a nominee before the clock might run out on the current president and Senate majority,” points out Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy. “If they succeed, they could transform the previous narrow 5–4 conservative majority on the Court into a much more secure 6–3 margin that could last for years to come.”
What do the chattering classes think should be done?
“President Trump should promptly nominate the late Justice Ginsburg’s successor, but Senators should delay a final vote on the nomination until after the election,” suggests Adam J. White at The Bulwark:
If Trump wins reelection, then his victory will secure not just the new justice’s appointment, but also her public legitimacy. And if Trump loses, then Senate Republicans and Democrats will have an opportunity to commit to not pack the Court, and thus to not destroy it.
It’s a plan so sensible that you know party bigwigs on both sides will hate it…
The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf muses about something a little more radical:
I sometimes think that if we made a
Supreme Court II that had exclusive jurisdiction over abortion cases but no other power, then the politics around Supreme Court I would be a lot closer to ideal.
— Conor Friedersdorf (@conor64) September 19, 2020
Charles C.W. Cooke wonders what all the fuss is about:
I must confess that, while I accept that the history is certainly on the side of filling it, I have never found this debate especially meaningful. As I wrote when Antonin Scalia died, this is an entirely straightforward question, the details of which are the same at all times within the cycle. In our system, the president gets to nominate a justice, and the Senate gets to decide whether to accept that nomination, to reject that nomination, or, if it likes, to completely ignore that nomination. This was true in 2016, and it is true now. The game requires both players. If they are both willing, the vacancy is filled. If one is not willing, the vacancy remains. And that, ultimately, is all there is to it.
Since Ginsburg’s death, two GOP senators—Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska—have said they think the decision should be left to whoever wins the election. The Senate currently has a 53–47 Republican majority.
“The looming fight over the Supreme Court vacancy so far does not appear to have given either of the two major political parties much of an advantage in an incendiary campaign season,” Reuters reports. In its recent poll with Ipsos,
30% of American adults said that Ginsburg’s death will make them more likely to vote for B
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