In the election campaign, American politicians are not taking much time to mourn judicial icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Donald Trump wants to settle the succession quickly, the Democrats are considering a controversial counterattack.
The death of US Constitutional Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg less than 50 days before the presidential election could revolutionize America. Of the nine seats on the US Supreme Court, only three are now held by liberals. Judges are appointed for life.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Your death could determine the election campaign. (Source: Allison Shelley / Getty Images)
In a first step, this means that President Barack Obama’s health care reform could very likely be reversed shortly after the presidential election in November. Even if the Supreme Court disagreed with four to four votes, the decision of the lower court, which declared “Obamacare” invalid, would remain in effect.
Mood at the boiling point
At the same time, President Donald Trump does not want to waste time and regulate Ginsburg’s successor in his tenure, which runs until January 20. The conservative majority could then grow to six votes. The current Conservatives in the Supreme Court are between 53 and 72 years old, so they could rule the court longer. Especially when Trump and the Senate Republicans cross out 48-year-old Amy Coney Barrett as Ginsburg’s successor. A much more conservative America could emerge with decisions about abortion rights, immigration or civil rights.
Amy Coney Barrett: The lawyer and anti-abortionist is being traded as Trump’s favorite to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Constitutional Court. (Source: University of Notre Dame / Image Images)
Currently, the mood in the battle for the White House is already at a boiling point. If only because Trump does not pass up an opportunity to warn of an alleged risk of electoral fraud through postal ballots. Democrats fear this could pave the way for the president not to recognize and dispute the election results. Again, the Supreme Court could have the final say.
Trump must fear support
But after Ginsburg’s death, Trump must fear Senate support for a quick replacement in the Supreme Court. On Sunday, a second senator from Trump’s Republicans spoke out against a vote on Ginsburg’s successor ahead of the presidential election, which is due in about six weeks. The constitutional judges are appointed by the president, but the senate must approve it.
You will not support a Senate vote on Ginsburg’s successor “so close to the election,” said Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine had previously opposed the quick vote Trump had called for. Both senators belong to the moderate party wing.
Given the narrow majority of Republicans in the Senate, the statements of Murkowski and Collins mean that Trump is unlikely to be able to push through the swift Supreme Court replacement with only two other Republican deviants.
Violent succession dispute
And the Democrats also believe they have been treated unfairly. When conservative Constitutional Court Judge Antonin Scalia died in early 2016, the Republican majority even refused to hear President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland – on the grounds that it was an election year. “The American people should have their say in the selection of the next constitutional judge,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “That is why the vacant post should not be filled until we have a new president.”
.@GOP We were placed in this powerful and important position to make decisions for the people who so proudly chose us, the most important of which has long been considered the selection of the judges of the United States Supreme Court. We have this obligation without delay!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2020
That was in February 2016 – almost nine months before the presidential election at the time. It’s now September – and Republican McConnell announced hours after Ginsburg’s death that the Senate would vote on a Trump-proposed candidate for successor. After all, it was the electorate’s will to get Republicans into the White House and Senate so they could nominate judges.
People gather before the Supreme to show their respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg: her successor should be a woman. (Source: J. Scott Applewhite / AP / dpa)
Senator Lindsey Graham, the chair of the judicial committee, in which candidates for constitutional judges must pass the hearing, spoke in almost prophetic terms in an even more difficult situation than McConnell four years ago. “If a Republican president is elected in 2016 and a vacancy becomes vacant in the last year of his first term, you could say that Lindsey Graham said we would leave the nomination to the next president, whoever he is,” said he at the time. And added that his words should be used against him.
Unsuccessful calls to Trump
When the exact situation he described at the time arose, Graham announced that he would support Trump’s nomination plans. The Democrats – from Trump challenger Joe Biden to ex-President Obama – have so far unsuccessfully appealed to Trump and the Republicans to wait until next year.
Let me be clear: the voters must elect a president, and that president must elect a successor to Justice Ginsburg.
– Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 19, 2020
Trump’s plan to fill the vacant post as soon as possible has now even been criticized by Biden as an “abuse of power” and an act of “raw political power.” “If I win the election, President Trump’s nomination must be withdrawn,” Biden demanded in a speech in Philadelphia. The former vice president is currently ahead of Trump in the polls.
High political explosiveness
Republicans hold a majority of 53 of the 100 seats in the Senate. In the event of a 50-50 stalemate, the vice president can have the casting vote – which is what Mike Pence has already done in appointing the lower authority judge. The Republicans cannot lose more than three votes. And maybe only two more as of Nov. 30, because in Arizona, Democrat Mark Kelly has a good chance of replacing Republican Senator Martha McSally. Because it is a special vote, the winner can be sworn in at the end of November.
A group of people are demonstrating in front of Donald Trump’s golf club: the US president is mainly criticized by the Democrats for wanting to fill the post of the late Judge Ginsburg during this tenure. (Source: Reuters)
Along with the presidential election, more than 35 senate seats will be voted this year. Polls say it is possible that Republicans will lose both the White House and the Senate. In the event that they actually make it through the Supreme Court replacement, a radical solution is ripening in the minds of the Democrats: an extension of the Supreme Court by two or four seats to dilute the conservative majority. Senator Ed Markey from Massachusetts spoke out for this.
Ginsburg made one last wish for her death
Ginsburg died of cancer on Friday at the age of 87. She was one of the four remaining left-wing liberals in the college of judges. Trump called her successor arrangement an “outright obligation.” He will therefore make a choice “very soon”, which will “most likely” be a woman.
According to public radio station NPR, Ginsburg herself had expressed the hope shortly before her death that her successor would not be determined until after the presidential election. A few days before her death, she dictated her “last will” to her granddaughter Clara Spera: “My greatest wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is appointed.”