In the days following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I have thought a great deal about her work on behalf of fairness before the law, her commitment to equality of rights and opportunity, and her honesty as both citizen and representative of the American people. She was a model of integrity in government.
The president has stated that he will immediately nominate a replacement for her seat. The Republican-controlled Senate has announced it will vote on this nomination. This is the opposite of what Republican senators said when President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in March of 2016, eight months before the 2016 election.
Here are some of those Republican senators in their own words:
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming): “The American people will soon decide our next president. That person should get to choose the next Supreme Court nominee. Give the people a voice and let them chart the course for the court and the country.”
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado): “I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina): “If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say, ‘Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination,’ and you can use my words against me and you’d be absolutely right.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa): “A lifetime appointment that could dramatically impact individual freedoms and change the direction of the court for at least a generation is too important to get bogged down in politics. The American people shouldn’t be denied a voice.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): “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.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida.): “I don’t think we should be moving on a nominee in the last year of this president’s term. I would say that if it was a Republican president.”
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina): “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.”
Other Republican senators who are on record in opposition to a president making a Supreme Court appointment in the last year of a term include Roy Blunt, Richard Barr, Ted Cruz, David Perdue and Rob Portman.
Justice Ginsburg was a voice of integrity. The Republican senators who now argue for an immediate appointment of a new Supreme Court justice are not voices of integrity. Given that along with his colleagues Sen. Barrasso intends to ignore his call to “Give the people a voice…” we, the people, must make our voices heard.