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Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) claimed Monday that Republicans have “no right” to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the November election, and said doing so would “spell the end” of the Senate.
Schumer’s comments came in a speech on the Senate floor in response to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s remarks that President Trump’s nominee for a vacancy would receive a vote on the floor of the Senate.
“By all rights, by every modicum of decency and honor, Leader McConnell and the Republican Senate majority have no right to fill it, no right,” Schumer said.
Schumer then repeated Ginsburg’s alleged statement to her granddaughter in her final days of life that her “most fervent wish” was that she should not be replaced until a new president is installed.
He added that Senate Republicans should have “no problem adhering to Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish” as Leader McConnell “held the Supreme Court vacancy open for nearly a year in order to ‘give the people a voice’ in selecting a Supreme Court justice.”
He criticized McConnell and Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) for going back on the standard they set in 2016 following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia when Senate Republicans refused to vote on President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” McConnell had said then. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
However, McConnell said his current stance is not comparable to his position from 2016 as the Senate was held by Republicans while the president was a Democrat.
On Monday McConnell quoted his own comments from February 2016 in saying, “The Senate has not filled a vacancy arising in an election year when there was a divided government since 1888, almost 130 years ago.”
Yet Schumer painted a dire picture of the Senate should Republicans move forward with filling the vacancy, saying the move would take the legislative body down a “dangerous path.”
“I worry for the future of this chamber if the Republican majority proceeds down this dangerous path. If a Senate majority over the course of six years steals two Supreme Court seats using completely contradictory rationales, how could we expect to trust the other side again?” he said.
“If, when push comes to shove, when the stakes are the highest, the other side will double-cross their own standards when it’s politically advantageous, tell me how this would not spell the end of this supposedly great deliberative body, because I don’t see how,” he continued.
The New York Democrat urged four Senate Republicans to commit to rejecting any nominee until the next president is installed, saying “that was Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish and it may be the Senate’s only last hope.”
Senators Susan Collins (R., Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) have both said they would not support confirming a presidential nominee ahead of the election.