FederalJudicialTexas Republicans, Democrats at Odds Over SCOTUS Nomination Before Election

Republicans say replacing Ginsburg before election day shouldn't draw comparisons to the blocking of Merrick Garland, Obama's 2016 nominee.
September 22, 2020
In the wake of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, Texas Republicans have urged President Trump to replace her before election day, while Democrats have framed the nomination as an election issue that should be decided by the next president and senate.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) encouraged Trump to make his nomination this coming week and argued against comparisons between the president’s upcoming nomination and former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland in the spring of 2016, which the Republican-led Senate blocked.

“29 times there has been a vacancy in a presidential election year… If the parties are the same, the Senate confirms the nominee. When the parties are different, that’s happened ten times… Of those ten, the Senate has confirmed the nominees only twice,” Cruz said in an interview with ABC News. “It’s a question of checks and balances… In this instance, the American people voted. They elected Donald Trump. A big part of the reason they elected Donald Trump is because of the Scalia vacancy, and they wanted principled constitutionalists on the court.”

Responding to allegations of Republican hypocrisy after Garland and leery of efforts to swell the size of the court, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) accused Democrats of a longer pattern of legal iconoclasm.

Packing the Supreme Court would fit the Democrats’ escalating pattern of breaking political norms on judicial nominations,” he tweeted.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) defended Republican plans to pick a justice before the upcoming election as “consistent with both history and precedent.”

“When an election year nomination to fill an election year vacancy occurs in a divided government with a senate and a president of different parties, the historical norm is that nominations are not confirmed,” McConnell said. “But the times this has happened after the American people have elected the senate majority to work alongside a same party president, every such nominee has been confirmed, save one bizarre exception of a nominee who had corrupt financial dealings,” he said in reference to Justice Abe Fortas.

Democratic candidate for senator MJ Hegar quoted Cornyn’s 2016 remarks in support of her stance that “the Supreme Court is on the ballot,” meaning that the nomination should wait until after the election as an important voter consideration.

“By flagrantly violating precedent they themselves championed when it served their agenda, Senator Cornyn, Ted Cruz, and Mitch McConnell are showing the American people once again that they lack the integrity to act in the best interests of our country. Let me be very clear – the American voters know the Supreme Court is on the ballot,” Hegar said in a statement. “We will determine who we are as a country on November 3rd, and it should be the President and Senate we elect who select a qualified individual to serve a lifetime appointment.”

U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) agreed in calling the nomination a 2020 election issue, saying that the threat of an Obamacare repeal looms behind Trump’s Supreme Court Pick.

“What’s at stake with this Supreme Court vacancy? The right to health care,” Castro tweeted. “If Trump/McConnell ram through a nominee, millions of Americans will lose access to health care — during a deadly pandemic. Abbott’s lawsuit to end Obamacare & preexisting conditions at SCOTUS Nov. 10th.”

Even from the red sphere of Texas statewide politics, Ginsburg’s death also brought words of appreciation and respect from officeholders and candidates, many of whom opposed her most notable stances.

“My heart goes out to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s family, and Cecilia and I are keeping them in our prayers,” Governor Greg Abbott stated. “Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer of keen intellect and will be remembered as a judicial giant. She put service above self and leaves behind a grateful nation.”

“Our hearts go out to the family of United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a remarkable woman, a fighter of top intellect and reason, who passed away this evening,” Ken Paxton said in a statement.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hagar and Texas General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush likewise tweeted their respect for the deceased justice, alongside San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg and Dallas mayor Eric Johnson (D-Dallas).


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Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.