The nation mourns the death of Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday.
Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, died surrounded by her family. A Supreme Court statement said her death was the result of complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. She was 87.
Appointed in 1993, Ginsburg was the soul of the court’s more liberal wing, particularly as a champion of gender equality and women’s rights — causes for which she fought her entire life.
Ginsburg became a cultural icon, known to her admirers simply as RBG, because of the ideal for which she fought valiantly: equal justice for all.
Even those who disagree with her conclusions must respect her legal acumen and her intelligence.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., a member of the court’s conservative wing, called Ginsburg “a tireless and resolute champion of justice,” and we agree. The nation has lost a cherished, respected and brilliant leader.
Too quickly, many turned from mourning Ginsburg’s death to jockeying over when she should be replaced and by whom.
President Donald Trump has promised to nominate a woman to replace Ginsburg, urging the U.S. Senate to take up the process without delay.
That would violate the precedent set by the U.S. Senate under the leadership of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2016. McConnell refused to take up President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. At the time Republican Senate leaders insisted the the nation needed to await the results of the 2016 election before considering a new member of the high court.
Ginsburg’s death comes more than six months closer to a presidential election. There is no insoluble reason to move ahead with a Supreme Court nomination. The high court moves at a considered pace by design, and there need be no rush to confirmation.
In 2016, we argued that Garland’s nomination deserved consideration, but McConnell set the precedent for waiting when a presidential election was near. Once precedent is set it should be binding, especially for McConnell, who remains in control of the Senate agenda. It would be hypocritical and wrong to take any other course now simply because it is politically expedient.
As U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford said in 2016, “We should continue the long-standing election year precedent and let Americans have a voice on the future direction of the court.”
The proper, consistent, respectful and just response for McConnell and the Senate is to wait.
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