President Trump on Friday night praised the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as “an amazing woman” who “led an amazing life.”
Trump commented on the death of the liberal icon after delivering a raucous rally in northern Minnesota, where he repeatedly invoked the Supreme Court as a reason to re-elect him, unaware of Ginsburg’s death.
“She led an amazing life, what else can you say? She was an amazing woman, whether you agreed or not. She was an amazing woman who led an amazing life. I’m actually saddened to hear that,” Trump said.
As Trump was speaking at the rally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a statement saying he would hold a vote on anyone Trump nominates to replace Ginsburg, potentially shifting the ideological balance on the court.
There would need to be 51 votes in favor of Trump’s nominee, giving Republicans an extremely thin margin. Two Republican senators — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Chuck Grassley of Iowa — have said they would not vote for a nominee before the election.
In Trump’s rally remarks, he repeatedly stressed the importance of the Supreme Court as an election issue, unaware of Ginsburg’s death.
“The next president will get one, two, three or four Supreme Court justices,” Trump said. “That will totally change when you talk about life, when you talk about the Second Amendment … You’re gonna be stuck for 40 years, 35 years.”
Trump this month unveiled a list of 44 conservatives — including four Republican senators — who he would consider for the Supreme Court.
Trump said at the rally that his candidates for the court are “unbelievable, the smartest, the best, the absolute creme de la creme, right? The best minds in the country, conservative. They believe in the Constitution. Okay? Little things.”
Intense focus immediately fell on moderate Republican senators who could scuttle a nomination if they object, particularly Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who voted to convict Trump in his impeachment trial this year, and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is in a close reelection race.
Trump’s list of potential nominees for the court includes Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Mike Lee of Utah and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
For years, Trump’s White House aides studiously avoided commenting on Ginsburg’s possible death during health scares, privately saying they didn’t want to appear to be “vultures” with such macabre speculation.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced Thursday night that the American flag was lowered to half-staff over the presidential mansion in honor of the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
“The flag is at half-staff here at the White House in honor of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a trailblazer for women,” McEnany tweeted.
Legal scholars immediately noted the significance of Ginsburg’s passing — both for her large number of fans, and for the balance of the court.
“Even without a closely divided Court, any replacement of Ruth Bader Ginsburg would be traumatic for millions because there is no replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg and we all know it. She is the type of personality that comes few times in history,” said George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley.
“She was one of the most consistent and clear and courageous voices in the history of the Court,” Turley said. “Her replacement by President Donald Trump could prove the most consequential and transformative nomination in the history of the modern court. An array of legal doctrine currently dangle by 5-4 majorities.”
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