The health of 87-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a topic of discussion once again after the recent revelation that she is being treated for yet another bout with cancer.
As such, the prospect of a vacancy on the high court is very real, and it has emerged that President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate would almost certainly jump at the chance to replace Ginsburg — or any other justice who may step down from the bench — should the opportunity arise, regardless of the fact that it is an election year, as the Daily Mail reports.
Ginsburg’s cancer returns
According to a press release issued by the Supreme Court last week, Ginsburg has been receiving chemotherapy to deal with cancerous lesions on her liver since mid-May after they were discovered during a scan in February and initial immunotherapy had proven insufficient to address them.
The elderly jurist claimed the chemotherapy was showing some success and she was tolerating it well enough to keep up with her duties on the court.
“I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam. I remain fully able to do that,” Ginsburg said in her statement, strongly implying she had no intention of retiring over her health issues.
GOP: Vacancy would be filled
But no matter her intentions, Ginsburg may not have the final say when it comes to cancer, and the Daily Mail — noting that President Trump golfed in Virginia on Saturday with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — speculated that a replacement for Ginsburg was a part of their conversation on the course.
As The Hill reports, Graham has recently suggested that he would support an effort by President Trump to nominate a replacement for any vacancy that might occur during this election year, a move that has prompted cries of hypocrisy from those on the left still bitter over the Republican-controlled Senate’s refusal to even consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland by former President Barack Obama in 2016.
What the left fails to remember, though, and something on which Republicans have remained consistent, is that the decision not to entertain a Supreme Court nominee during an election year was tied explicitly to the fact that the Senate and White House were held by different parties at that time, which obviously isn’t the case this year.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has blunt in saying that he will immediately fill any vacancies that come up in the federal courts, and with Graham apparently now on board as well, it seems increasingly possible that Trump and the Senate could move to fill Ginsburg’s seat — if it opens up — with a much younger and far more conservative replacement.
The Daily Mail reported that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows all but confirmed as much when speaking to reporters last week, after Ginsburg was hospitalized for an infection but before she revealed her latest battle with cancer, saying:
I can’t imagine that if he had a vacancy on the Supreme Court that he would not very quickly make the appointment and look for the Senate to take quick action.
To be sure, while Trump and Republicans would have every right to fill a court vacancy at any time, doing so in the months prior to an election would be incredibly bold and fraught with potentially catastrophic political consequences.
Such a move would undoubtedly enrage the base of the Democratic Party and potentially erase the enthusiasm gap President Trump has enjoyed over presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, something the nation can ill afford in what is a truly make-or-break election year.