The Effect of Ginsburg’s Death on the Presidential Election

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Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg

On Friday night, the US Supreme Court lost one of their own. Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away after a long fight with pancreatic cancer. She was first appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, serving 27 years as a Supreme Court Justice. She helped to establish and shape women’s rights to what they are today including a women’s right to: sign for a mortgage by themselves without a man, have a bank account without a male cosigner, be pregnant and able to work, and finally, have a job without discrimination.

Now there lies an open seat for either a Republican president to make the appointment or for a potential Democratic President to make the appointment. There is controversy over whether or not to have President Trump fill the seat before Election Day on November 3rd, or to wait until after the election and have the new president make the appointment. The fight over the appointment will be a big predicament until Election Day.

Since Friday, there have been many news reports going back and forth about when the voting for a new Supreme Court Justice will take place. Some of the news reports claim that Trump has someone in mind already to replace Ginsburg, and that it will be a female. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement that he vows to hold a vote in the Senate before the election for whomever the president chooses as an appointment. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on the other hand begs to differ. Pelosi has ways to hold off the voting for a new Supreme Court Justice until after the election, but she does not want to disclose any information right now.

Republican’s Reasoning

McConnell is pushing for a vote before the election while the Republicans have the majority in the Senate with 53 seats. He insists that getting the vote for Trump’s nominee should not be an issue with the Senate majority being Republican. However, some Republicans such as Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) refuse to vote for the nominee that will be given to them until after the election. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) is on the fence about whether or not he is going to choose to vote before the election. The two Senators do not want to vote because they think it will be too close to the election. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee that screens the nominees, said that if a death from one of the nine judges were to take place within the president’s last year in office, that the voting will take place after the next election.  Graham has since gone back on this statement and said that he is going to support President Trump in however he decides to handle this situation. Before 2016 and Harry Reid’s filibuster reform the Senate needed 60 votes for a circuit court nomination. This now means that the Senate only needs a simple majority. In this case, even if the Republican Senate loses the three votes of Murkowski, Collins and Romney there is still a way to get an appointee through before election day. This would then make the vote in the Senate split down the middle to 50/50.  Vice President Pence would then step in to preside over the Senate and cast the tie breaking vote. With it being an equal playing field, it is obvious that Vice President Mike Pence will most likely vote the nomination through.

Democratic Debate

On the other side, Obama made a statement on the day of Ginsburg’s passing claiming that he was in the same position four years ago. Obama recalled that Republican lawmakers did not allow for a vote to go through until after the next election, and established a principle because of that. Therefore, the same should go for this presidential election because it is only fair. In 2016, President Obama wanted to replace Justice Anthony Scalia before the election took place in November. The situation turned into an issue because the Democratic party was holding the White House and the Republicans were holding the Senate. The Republicans did not want to vote on a new nominee before the election because they did not want to vote that close before an election took place. 

Democrats are also fighting for the nomination to take place after the election for the same reason. With that being said, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s last wish was to not be replaced until after the next election a source claims. However, Republicans fight back against what Democrats are saying because it is a different situation than when Obama was President. The same party holds both the White House and the Senate.

It will be interesting to see what takes place within the next two months on top of all the campaigning that is going to be happening between Joe Biden and President Trump. The discussion on this topic will most likely be brought up during debates if they do not have it figured out by the time those come.

Why is it important for this election?

The Supreme Court nomination is very important during this election because if the election is contested by Biden or Trump, the Supreme Court takes the election into their own hands and decides based on the votes and the electoral votes. This is vital because if President Trump is able to get another judge on the bench before the election, he has another vote towards him if the election went to the Supreme Court. Currently, the Supreme Court consists of five Republicans and three Democrats. If Trump is able to get another nomination pushed through then it would be six Republicans to three Democrats.

Chief Justice John Roberts who was appointed by George W. Bush has a pattern of voting more towards Democratic ideas, although he was nominated by the Republican party. This can turn out to be a very substantial issue because if the election does go to the Supreme Court the vote could potentially be tied with an empty seat if he continues to vote in this manner.

With the nomination of a ninth supreme court justice seat on the line and the potential for the Republican party to have a voice for decades to come in the Supreme Court, this could be one the most monumental nominations the Trump administration has had in its first term. The nomination could also aid in Trump’s re-election. If he votes in a female Supreme Court Justice, he could increase his fondness by women voters where he is currently struggling. Whether this current administration or the next administration puts forward a nomination for the replacement of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg, the next justice will be with a prodigious presence for decades to come. 

Sources https://www.forbes.com/sites/elanagross/2020/09/18/mcconnell-vows-to-hold-vote-on-trumps-supreme-court-nominee-but-will-he-ha ve-the-votes/#4dd29d2d2d7c https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/09/20/pelosi-impeachment-option-ruth-bader-ginsburg-supreme-seat/584431300 2/ https://www.npr.org/2018/06/29/624467256/what-happened-with-merrick-garland-in-2016-and-why-it-matters-now https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/when-does-the-supreme-court-get-involved-in-settling-presidential-elections/ https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/27/politics/john-roberts-supreme-court-liberals-daca-second-amendment/index.html 

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