Ginsburg, who was the second woman to sit on the nation’s highest court, after Sandra Day O’Connor, was one of the Supreme Court’s more liberal justices. With her gone, the court is now split between three liberal justices and five conservative ones. If President Donald Trump is able to nominate and get another conservative justice confirmed, that would cement conservatives’ hold on the nation’s most powerful court, likely for years to come.
When conservative Justice Antonin Scalia — a close friend of Ginsburg’s — died in February 2016, Republicans in the Senate blocked former President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, saying the president shouldn’t make the selection in a presidential election year.
Now, just over six weeks before the 2020 election, it appears the Republican-led Senate will not be staying consistent and waiting until the next president is chosen before confirming a justice to replace Ginsburg. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confirmed on Friday: “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
After news of Ginsburg’s death Friday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted: “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” — which was reportedly a direct quote of what McConnell tweeted after Scalia’s death.
After Garland was blocked from Senate consideration, Trump later nominated conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch to the court, who was confirmed in 2017.
With a Republican-majority Senate, Democratic senators will have no chance of blocking a Trump nominee to the court without some Republicans voting against the nominee as well.