McConnell vows Trump’s nominee to replace Ginsburg will get Senate vote, setting up historic fight

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks during a press conference (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
Credit: Washington, DC, United States

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed on Friday that whomever President Donald Trump nominates to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will get a vote on the Senate floor, signaling a historic fight in Congress over one of the most polarizing issues in American politics.

“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in a statement Friday evening that already set him on a collision path with Democrats, though the exact timing of such a fight was not immediately clear.

McConnell’s call directly contrasted with the top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York, who said earlier Friday that a Supreme Court vacancy “should not be filled until we have a new president.”

“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,” the top Senate Democrat tweeted after news of the justice’s passing broke.

“Tonight, we mourn the passing of a giant in American history, a champion for justice, a trailblazer for women. She would want us all to fight as hard as we can to preserve her legacy,” Schumer wrote.

Senate Republicans, who hold the majority in the upper chamber, only need 51 votes to confirm a new justice once one is formally nominated — and Republican leaders have already previously vowed to fill any potential Supreme Court vacancy this year if one were to occur. Republicans currently control 53 seats.

Ginsburg died on Friday due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer, the court announced. She was 87.

Earlier this year, McConnell reiterated his position that the GOP-led Senate would confirm a nominee to any Supreme Court vacancy that occurred this election year, despite leaving a seat vacant in 2016 and preventing President Barack Obama’s nominee from consideration.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, expressed his condolences over Ginsburg’s passing Friday evening.

“It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Justice Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer who possessed tremendous passion for her causes. She served with honor and distinction as a member of the Supreme Court,” Graham tweeted.

LIVE UPDATES: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died

He went on to say, “While I had many differences with her on legal philosophy, I appreciate her service to our nation. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends. May she Rest In Peace.”

Ginsburg was appointed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton and in recent years served as the most senior member of the court’s liberal wing, consistently delivering progressive votes on the most divisive social issues of the day, including abortion rights, same-sex marriage, voting rights, immigration, health care and affirmative action.