Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to take President Donald Trump’s candidate to the Supreme Court within hours of news of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, sparking outrage among Democrats.
Mr McConnell said he would act quickly, despite the election in six weeks.
In 2016, he blocked President Barack Obama’s choice for court on the grounds that it was an election year.
Joe Biden insisted that a replacement should only take place after the ballot.
Ginsburg, 87, died of metastatic pancreatic cancer on Friday at her home in Washington, DC, surrounded by her family.
The second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, she had become a leading Liberal figure in the United States and was an iconic champion of women’s rights.
Thousands of people gathered outside court on Friday night to pay tribute to the woman who had become affectionately known as “The Notorious RBG”.
What is the argument about?
The appointment of judges in the United States is political – which means the president can choose who is nominated. The Senate then votes to confirm – or reject – the choice.
Ginsburg, who served for 27 years, was one of only four Liberals on the nine-place bench. His death means that, if the Republicans got the vote, the balance of power would shift decisively towards the Conservatives.
Mr. Trump, who has already chosen two Supreme Court justices during his presidency, is well aware that the arrival of his candidate will mean that the Conservatives will have control over key decisions for decades to come. Judges can serve for life, unless they decide to retire.
At a rally Friday – before learning of Ginsburg’s death – he told the crowd that whoever wins the election “would get one, two, three or four Supreme Court justices,” saying the vote of November would be “the most important” in the United States. the story.
Mr McConnell said in his statement – which included a tribute to Ginsburg – that “President Trump’s candidate will receive a vote on the floor of the US Senate.”
The senator argued in 2016 that “the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court judge,” which meant that “this position should not be filled until we have a new one. President “.
But now he says the Senate was within its rights to act because it was controlled by Republicans and Mr. Trump is a Republican president.
Democrats, however, began to echo Mr. McConnell’s comments from 2016.
Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted out repeating his exact phrase, while Mr Biden told reporters: ‘There is no doubt – let me be clear – that voters should choose the president and the president should choose justice for the Senate. to consider. ”
Ginsburg had also shared his feelings in the days leading up to his death.
“My most ardent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” she wrote in a statement to her granddaughter, according to National Public Radio (NPR).
What does the Supreme Court do?
The highest court in the United States is often the final say on highly contentious laws, disputes between the state and the federal government, and final appeals to stay executions.
In recent years, the court has extended same-sex marriage to all 50 states, cleared President Trump’s travel ban, and delayed a US plan to cut carbon emissions while appeals continued.
- Why is America’s highest court so important?
It also deals with issues such as reproductive rights – one of the main reasons some pro-life conservatives want to tip the scales away from liberals.
What is Ginsburg’s legacy?
During an illustrious legal career spanning six decades, Ginsburg achieved unprecedented celebrity status for a lawyer in the United States revered by both liberals and conservatives.
Liberal Americans in particular idolized her for her progressive votes on the most controversial social issues that have been referred to the Supreme Court, from abortion rights to same-sex marriages.
Born to parents of Jewish immigrants in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933, Ginsburg studied at Harvard Law School, where she was one of only nine women in a class of about 500 men.
Ginsburg didn’t receive a single job offer after graduation, despite finishing first in her class. Nonetheless, she persisted, holding various jobs in the legal profession throughout the 1960s and well beyond.
In 1972, Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). That same year, Ginsburg became the first female full professor at Columbia Law School.
In 1980, Ginsburg was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia as part of then-President Jimmy Carter’s efforts to diversify federal courts. Although Ginsburg has often been described as a brand of liberal fire, his days on the appeals court were marked by moderation.
She was appointed to the Supreme Court by former President Bill Clinton in 1993, becoming only the second of four female judges to be confirmed to the court.
Towards the end of his life, Ginsburg became a national icon. Partly because of his dissent, Ginsburg was dubbed Notorious RBG by his army of online fans – a nod to the late rapper The Notorious BIG.
This comparison introduced Ginsburg to a new generation of young feminists, turning her into a cult figure.
What reaction was there?
Hours after the news broke, hundreds of people gathered outside the Washington DC Supreme Court to pay their respects.
The BBC’s Alexandra Ostasiewicz at the scene said the mood was dark but the crowd occasionally entered chants of “RBG! And “Vote it!” ”
Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement Friday that the United States “has lost a lawyer of historic stature.”
“At the Supreme Court, we lost a dear colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her – a tireless and steadfast champion of justice.
Former presidents, seasoned politicians and seasoned legal scholars were among those mourning the loss of Ginsburg on Friday, hailing her commitment to women’s rights.
Jimmy Carter called her a “truly wonderful woman,” writing in a statement: “A powerful legal mind and a strong advocate for gender equality, she has been a beacon of justice throughout her long and remarkable career. . I was proud to have named her. to the United States Court of Appeal in 1980. ”
Hailing his “pursuit of justice and equality,” former President George W. Bush said Ginsburg “has inspired more than a generation of women and girls.”
Hillary Clinton, a Democrat who ran against President Trump in the 2016 presidential election, said she was inspired by Ginsburg.
Mr. Trump also praised her, saying Ginsburg was a “titan of the law” and a “brilliant mind,” in a tweeted statement.
Mr McConnell, meanwhile, said she had won “respect and admiration in the legal world, and even across the nation.”