Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday vowed that he will hold a vote on President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Trump is already moving to name a new nominee.
In a statement issued just over an hour after the Supreme Court said that Ginsburg had passed, McConnell said the nominee, who has not been named, “will receive a vote on the floor.”
Ginsburg, who sat on the bench for 27 years and was the second woman confirmed to the top court, passed after suffering from pancreatic cancer just under seven weeks before the November race between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
During the last election cycle, in 2016, McConnell drew the ire of Democrats by refusing to hold hearings for former President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.
Obama nominated Garland after the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in Feb. 2016. Hours later, McConnell put out a statement saying that Scalia’s spot should not be filled until after the election took place.
The Supreme Court had a 5-4 majority of Republican appointed justices; a 6-3 majority could have a dramatic impact on the shape of the law on business and social issues for a generation to come.
The nomination will not be solely up to McConnell. While Republicans hold a 53-seat majority in the Senate, several GOP senators have expressed opposition to filling a 2020 vacancy.
Trump’s first nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, easily gained enough GOP support. But Justice Brett Kavanaugh faced a tougher time, following sexual misconduct allegations which he denied.
One Republican senator who voted against Kavanaugh’s nomination, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, has previously said that she opposed filling a hypothetical Ginsburg vacancy. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who voted for both of Trump’s nominees, has also opposed a 2020 vote for the Supreme Court.
Other moderate GOP senators, including Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, also did not respond to a request for comment.
One element that could shape the debate is Ginsburg’s own reported dying wish that she not be replaced before Inauguration Day. According to NPR, in the days before she died, Ginsburg uttered a statement to her granddaughter, Clara Spera.
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg said.