Republicans in the Senate and President Trump rightly are taking action to fill Justice Ginsburg’s vacancy on the court — much to the consternation of Democrats, who were all for filling a Supreme Court vacancy when Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in February 2016. At the time, the Republican Senate wisely decided to follow a historical precedent and not confirm then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, in an election year.
Republicans followed historical precedent in 2016 by declining to confirm Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, and Republicans are likewise following historical precedent now by taking up President Trump’s Supreme Court nomination.
Further, in 2014 the American people voted for a Republican Senate to be a legislative check on the Obama-Biden administration. They felt the country was moving too far to the left, particularly the federal judiciary. The Senate’s role is to advise and consent on the president’s nominations. By not confirming Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, we were doing the job the American people mandated us to do.
As I lay out in my new book, “One Vote Away — How a Single Supreme Court Seat Can Change History,” I agreed to endorse then-candidate Trump only when he agreed to a specified list of people he would consider nominating to be Justice Scalia’s replacement. He agreed to the list, and two weeks into his presidency President Trump nominated one of the 21 judges on the list, Judge Neil Gorsuch, to fill Justice Scalia’s seat.
The reason American voters picked Trump over Clinton, and the reason they ushered in a Senate majority in 2014 and 2016 and expanded that majority in 2018, is because the constitutional liberties fundamental to our democracy — free speech, religious liberty and the Second Amendment — hang in the balance of the court.
In my book, I make the case for why filling the vacancy left by Justice Ginsburg is so important. On so many issues, we are just one vote away from losing our liberties — such as religious liberty and our right to keep and bear arms — and seeing our country fundamentally changed.
And in a matter of weeks, the result of this presidential election could come down to the court. If the election results are challenged, a four-four court can’t decide anything. We need a full Court on Election Day, given the high likelihood we’re going to see litigation that goes to the court. We need a nine justice Supreme Court that can give a definitive answer for the country.
When it comes to our fundamental rights and contentious policy issues, we are one vote away from either upholding the Constitution and preserving our liberties or destroying them.
For ourselves and for posterity, we have a solemn obligation not to let that happen.