For most of us, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death elicited two emotions. Sadness at the passing of such a wise and brilliant leader, and fear for what this might mean for the balance of power on the Supreme Court.
Now as the Senate is taking steps to nominate a successor before the November 3rd election, many GOP senators have conveniently forgotten their ardent claims back in 2016 that a nominee for the Supreme Court must not be put forward in an election year.
“Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election,” said Sen. Susan Collins.
“It is essential to the institution of the Senate and to the very health of our republic to not launch our nation into a partisan, divisive confirmation battle during the very same time the American people are casting their ballots to elect our next president,” Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina said at the time. (Note to North Carolina readers: Tillis is up for re-election this year.)
Other senators—such as Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio—insisted that they were above politics, claiming that they would stick to this principle even if the President doing the nominating was a Republican. This stand spelled the end of Obama-nominee Merritt Garland’s prospects to ascend to the high court.
But here we are today, with Mitch McConnell, Graham, Rubio, and their cynical compatriots trying to rush through a nominee in the fall when they wouldn’t even give Garland a hearing, even though he was nominated in March, almost eight months before the election.
If you’re angry at the blatant hypocrisy, you’re not alone.
Two Women Who—So Far—Are Keeping Their Word
Should we be surprised that so far the only two GOP Senators who have clearly stated their opposition to putting a nominee forward are women? Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine have each gone on record that it is wrong to go ahead with the nominating process. If you recall, these were two of GOP Senators who broke ranks to uphold Obamacare back in 2017.
“The closer you get to an election, that argument becomes even more important,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
“I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice Scalia,” Murkowski said Sunday. “We are now even closer to the 2020 election —less than two months out—and I believe the same standard must apply.” She added: “The closer you get to an election, that argument becomes even more important,” she said.
On Saturday, Collins—who is locked in a tight battle for reelection—said “in order for the American people to have faith in their elected officials, we must act fairly and consistently – no matter which political party is in power.”
“Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election,” she said. “In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the president or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Replacement: Speak Up
We applaud Murkowski and Collins for taking a stand and staying firm, something no man has yet had the courage go do. Though we disagree with them on certain issues—such as Collins’s vote to approve Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court two years ago—we are proud that women are showing moral leadership in a party that desperately needs a backbone.
We encourage readers to thank Murkowski and Collins via email or phone, and to contact your own senators, if they are planning to vote on Trump’s nominee, and ask them to grow a pair and follow their example.
Where to Start
Here’s part of what co-founder Jeannie Ralston wrote to Senators Murkowski and Collins.
I want to tell you how much I admire you for doing what’s right as far as the next Supreme Court nominee. It is not lost on me or other women I know that the two GOP Senators who have taken a stand consistent with the party’s 2016 statements on Merritt Garland are women. That’s why we need more women in leadership positions, no matter what their party. Thank you.