Obama Has a Message for Republican Senators on RBG

Dems remind GOP of their remarks in 2016 on filling an empty SCOTUS seat during election year
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2020 5:30 AM CDT
Obama Weighs In on RBG's 'Instructions'
In this Sept. 26, 2018, file photo, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves the stage after speaking to first-year students at Georgetown Law in Washington.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Mitch McConnell vowed late Friday that a vote will be held on President Trump's nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, who died Friday at 87. But prominent Democrats, including Barack Obama, are pushing back, digging up the remarks of McConnell and other GOP senators from 2016, when they refused to hold a vote on Merrick Garland, then-President Obama's pick to replace Antonin Scalia on the bench. McConnell's argument then: that filling an empty Supreme Court seat during an election year should wait until after the election. The New York Times notes Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer got the ball rolling by tweeting McConnell's exact words from four years ago: "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."

CNN International correspondent Michael Holmes also tweeted out a series of 2016 quotes from GOP senators who echoed McConnell's thoughts at the time and refused to consider Obama's selection for the court. "Why would we squelch the voice of the populace? Why would we deny the voters a chance to weigh in?" Sen. Tom Cotton said then. Meanwhile, Barack Obama is also offering his own thoughts. In a late-night Medium post, the former president praised Ginsburg's esteemed career, and then noted: "She also left instructions for how she wanted her legacy to be honored." In short, Obama said, the GOP should, in "everyday fairness ... apply rules with consistency, and not based on what's convenient or advantageous in the moment." As Americans have already started early voting, "Republican Senators are now called to apply that standard." More here. (More Ruth Bader Ginsburg stories.)

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