Former President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders urged Senate Republicans to refrain from filling the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat until after the presidential election in November.
Obama immediately released a statement on Friday following announcements about Ginsburg’s death.
The former president highlighted the contradiction in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) actions as he recalled his refusal to bring a vote to the Senate floor when he nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court.
Obama noted that at the time McConnell invented a principle: “The Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in.”
“Four and a half years ago, when Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in,” Obama said.
Now, Obama is challenging McConnell and Republican lawmakers to stand by the rule they ultimately created, noting that early voting has also begun in multiple states.
“A basic principle of the law — and of everyday fairness — is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment,” he continued. “The rule of law, the legitimacy of our courts, the fundamental workings of our democracy all depend on that basic principle.
Obama added, “As votes are already being cast in this election, Republican Senators are now called to apply that standard.”
As news of Ginsburg’s death began to circulate, Republican lawmakers immediately began making plans to replace the historic trailblazer.
Like Obama, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and others have expressed disapproval of McConnell’s stance.
As Biden mourned the loss of Ginsburg, he echoed Obama’s sentiments. He noted that McConnell refused to hold a vote for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee roughly 10 months before the 2016 presidential election.
With only 45 days until the 2020 election, Biden also argued that the Supreme Court appointee should be selected by the next United States president — a decision that will ultimately be decided by the American public.
“Let me be clear: Voters should pick the next president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider. 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 the United States Senate must take today, and the election’s only 46 days off.”
He added, “I think the fastest justice ever confirmed was 47 days, and the average is closer to 70 days, and so we should do this with full consideration, and that is my hope and expectation of what will happen.”
See Biden’s remarks below:
Joe Biden struggles to read prepared remarks after passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) September 19, 2020
"The voters should pick the president & the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider."pic.twitter.com/Qinpv3Mlye
Despite stark criticism, McConnell vowed to hold a vote on the Senate floor for whoever Trump appoints. The president is reportedly expected to put forth a nominee to fill Ginsburg’s vacant seat soon, according to ABC News.