Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death at 87 sets in motion a monumental political fight in the final weeks before the elections – amid her dying wish that President Donald Trump not nominate her successor.
Donald Trump has suggested Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish was faked by his political opponents in the Democratic Party.
After Justice Ginsburg’s death on Friday, her granddaughter Clara Spera released her final statement to Americans: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Trump, however, intends to nominate a successor “without delay”.
Speaking to Fox News overnight, the US President cast doubt on the veracity of Justice Ginsburg’s last words, theorising they were actually written by the Democrats.
“I don’t know that she said that. Or was that written out by Adam Schiff and Schumer and Pelosi? I would be more inclined to the second,” Mr Trump told the network’s morning show Fox & Friends in a phone interview.
“That came out of the wind. It sounds so beautiful. But that sounds like a Schumer deal, or maybe a Pelosi or Shifty Schiff.
“Maybe she did and maybe she didn’t.”
Chuck Schumer is the Senate Minority Leader. Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House. Schiff is Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and prosecuted the case against Trump during his impeachment trial earlier this year.
So the President was essentially pointing the finger at his three biggest enemies in Congress.
He was also, by implication, calling Spera a liar, given she is the one who released Ginsburg’s statement, and she said her grandmother had dictated it.
Trump on RBG's reported dying wish that next pres fills her seat: "I don't know that she said that, or was that written out by Adam Schiff and Schumer and Pelosi. I would be more inclined to the second … But that sounds like a Schumer deal or maybe a Pelosi or Shifty Schiff." pic.twitter.com/zE979kK2Q3
— The Recount (@therecount) September 21, 2020
Ginsburg’s death has set up a tumultuous political battle in the final months of the presidential election.
Under America’s judicial system, it is the President’s job to nominate Justices for the Supreme Court, and the Senate’s job to confirm them.
Trump’s Republican Party controls both the White House and the Senate at the moment, meaning it has an opportunity to replace Ginsburg – an icon of progressive law – with a conservative.
That would shift the balance of the court to six conservative Justices versus just three progressives, and potentially open the door to overturning Roe v Wade, a landmark decision from 1973 which effectively legalised abortion in the United States.
There is no rule stopping a new Justice from being nominated or confirmed during an election year. But the Democrats are still crying foul, citing the Republicans’ behaviour back in 2016, when the conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died.
That happened in February, almost nine months before the 2016 election. Then-president Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to take Scalia’s place.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t just vote against Judge Garland – he refused to even hold hearings, let alone a vote, on Obama’s nominee.
“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,” McConnell said at the time, justifying his decision.