Sep 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump says Republicans have an "obligation" to fill Ginsburg's seat

Trump speaking in Minnesota on Sept. 18.

President Trump. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

President Trump wrote in a tweet Saturday morning that Republicans have an "obligation" to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court following her death Friday.

What he's saying: "We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices," the president said, tagging the Republican Party. "We have this obligation, without delay!"

Why it matters: Trump's push to quickly fill Ginsburg's seat before Election Day could set up a bitter fight within the Senate.

  • Trump is expected to nominate a successor within days, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already said the president's nomination will receive a confirmation vote, despite precedent set by Senate Republicans in 2016 not to consider a nominee during an election year.
  • We know Trump's list of potential nominees.

Context: Republicans stonewalled President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland following Justice Antonin Scalia's death in 2016, claiming that voters should decide in the election who is appointed to the court.

The big picture: Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have already called on Senate Republicans to adhere to that precedent.

  • "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "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.
  • "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," Schumer said, directly quoting McConnell's 2016 comments after Scalia's death.

Ginsburg, just days before her death, dictated a statement to her granddaughter in which she said: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," according to NPR.

Go deeper: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

Go deeper