After two recent hospitalizations for minor illnesses, speculation has revived over whether 86-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be able to keep her seat on the high court until after the 2020 election, The Hill reported Saturday.
Democrats are already pressuring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), President Donald Trump, and Judicial Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to delay filling any potential seat until after the election.
If Ginsburg does need to step down from her role as Supreme Court justice, however, McConnell and Trump have already vowed to fill the seat before 2020 voting takes place.
A brutal battle
Such a move by Ginsburg could set the stage for a brutal battle that overshadows impeachment and other investigations taking place in Congress and the Department of Justice (DOJ), making the contentious confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh look mild in comparison.
“It would be the biggest Supreme Court battle we’ve ever seen. There would be no comparison. It would make the Brett Kavanaugh fight look like a game of beanbag,” GOP strategist Brian Darling told The Hill.
“I think impeachment is already a done deal because everybody knows how it’s going to play out,” Darling added. “It’s all just posturing, but when it comes to a Supreme Court battle, that’s a whole different ball game.”
Even if Trump is re-elected in 2020, if Republicans lose the majority in the Senate, the president will have a lot of trouble getting a conservative nominee confirmed. Seats in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina seem most vulnerable to being flipped, with a total of 22 seats currently in Republican hands up for re-election.
“While defeating a Supreme Court justice next year would appear to be challenging, it’s not impossible, primarily because more and more voters in target states may well share their concern with their senators up for re-election,” president of liberal advocacy group Alliance for Justice Nan Aron told The Hill.
Trump charges on
For his part, President Trump has continued to nominate federal judges — and the Senate has confirmed them — even in the midst of an impeachment fight that has led to questions about whether Trump will serve out his term or be re-elected.
One in four federal judges now serving has been appointed by Trump, McConnell and Senate Republicans celebrated in November.
Republicans blocked the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016 because it was an election year, according to NPR, but McConnell has argued that such action was appropriate because the parties of the president and Senate majority were different. Now, they are the same.
In other words, Republicans have the power to fill Ginsburg’s seat if it should be vacated before November 2020. And they are perfectly within their rights to do so.