We join our fellow Americans in mourning the loss of a truly inspiring and remarkable figure, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her courage and resolve typified the best of our nation, and our nation is better for her service.
As there is now an opening in the court, the typical partisan battle lines have already been drawn, with President Trump and Majority Leader McConnell vowing to fill the vacancy before the election. It is utter hypocrisy for Senator McConnell to have claimed in 2016 that an election 8 months away should decide the court seat, only to now fill a vacancy as voting is already under way. If McConnell felt that the will of voters must be heard under Obama, then he must allow them to decide again now. Moving forward with the process now only confirms his unsuitability for the power which he craves.
His decision is all the more egregious now. We know that Russian intelligence operatives interfered in our last presidential election to help Trump win. It is an inescapable fact that the makeup of our court has been steered in part by a malign foreign influence, one which the President sought out and welcomed, and one which he is again looking to for help. With another election so close, it would behoove us to ensure that the next Supreme Court Justice is free from the shadow of foreign interference.
To do so, we must aggressively defend our elections and all foreign interference, as well as from President Trump’s own efforts to invalidate the vote before it even happens. But we must also delay the nomination process until after the election and inauguration. Putting the nomination in the hands of the next Senate and President is the only way to truly give the American people a say in such a critical decision.
But we are under no illusions that McConnell’s “rule” has ever been anything other than pure partisan self-interest. Barring a revolt from the GOP caucus itself, America will have a new Supreme Court Justice in the next few months.
To be clear, President Trump has the Constitutional power and authority to nominate a new justice, just as President Obama had that power and right in 2016. McConnell’s choice to leave the seat vacant, without even a hearing, was a pure power play. And his contradictory choice now is more of the same.
We know that Trump and McConnell will move forward. We know that because no principle, even ones invented in election years past, has any home in the highest echelons of the Republican Party. Therefore, our fight must be to ensure that the next Justice to the Supreme Court is qualified, experienced, and above all independent. This is not a perfect solution. Even candidates who are, in isolation, well qualified and honorable, will serve with the cloud of foreign interference hanging over their appointment. But the only way to free the court of this cloud is to first cleanse the stain from the Oval Office.
Any Republican who still prizes their integrity and honor must demand, at a minimum, that the next nominee meet the highest standards of independence, both from partisan and personal loyalties. The rule of law is made stronger by jurisprudential differences. But it is undermined entirely by partisanship, foreign influence and cronyism. Republicans of conscience cannot allow this vacancy to be a harbinger for the corruption that Trumpism has wrought across our government.