On 18 September 2020, the US Supreme Court announced the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (87), due to complications of “metastatic pancreas cancer”. Justice Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court by Bill Clinton in 1993.
Ginsburg was described by the Chief Justice as “a jurist of historic stature”, by Justice Thomas as “the essence of grace, civility and dignity”, by Justice Sotomayor as “a pathbreaking champion of women’s rights”, and by Justice Kavanaugh as “a cherished colleague”.
On 18 September, the White House released a statement describing Ginsburg as “a titan of the law”, while the following day, the Vice President, commented, “A fierce defender of her judicial philosophy, Justice Ginsburg will always be remembered as a jurist who respected and commanded the respect of all her colleagues.”
President Trump is considering five candidates to replace Justice Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, all of them women. According to White House Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, each of the candidates are textualists, originalist “Constitution-abiding judges”.
The leading candidate for the role is believed to be Amy Coney Barrett. Judge Barrett was installed as a justice on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017, and formerly clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia, but her candidacy has been questioned in the past even by some conservative Catholics for failing to be sufficiently originalist. Trump is expected to announce his candidate later today, and it would not be unprecedented for President Trump to surprise political commentators with his pick.
Both Republicans and Democrats have accused each other of hypocrisy over the question of filing the Supreme Court seat on an election year. According to Senator Romney, “The historical precedent of election year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party’s nominee, but does confirm a nominee of its own.”
Picture of Ruth Bader Ginsburg during her nomination process in 1993. Public domain.