Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said Friday, just hours before the announcement of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, that she would not vote to confirm a high court nominee until after the election.
Following news of the 87-year-old Ginsburg’s passing, the national conversation immediately pivoted to the potential looming battle to fill the new vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Murkowski, for her part, released a statement mourning Ginsburg on Friday evening.
“Tonight America lost a true leader and pioneer. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the second female Supreme Court Justice to sit on the bench. She has been a champion and crusader for equal justice and civil liberties and has made an enduring mark on history,” the Alaska Republican said.
My statement after hearing of the passing of Justice of United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: pic.twitter.com/1zhWSH5hhg
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) September 19, 2020
“Her life’s story is a reminder of how far women have come in the fight for equality but there is more to be done. I have the greatest respect for her as a trailblazer among women. I am personally deeply saddened by her passing and know that women around the world who have also admired her tenacity and spirit feel the same.”
She concluded: “Tonight we mourn her passing and turn to honoring her life and legacy.”
Coincidentally, not long before Ginsburg’s death was announced, Murkowski weighed in Friday on the hypothetical scenario of a Supreme Court vacancy during an interview with Alaska Public Media, though she did not specifically mention Ginsburg.
The senator invoked then-lame duck President Barack Obama’s 2016 nomination of Merrick Garland, who did not receive a confirmation vote by the Senate following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Murkowski told the outlet she felt “that was too close to an election and that the people needed to decide. That the closer you get to an election, that argument becomes even more important.”
“So I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee,” she said, according to a recording of the exchange obtained by the Anchorage Daily News.
“We are 50-some days away from an election, and the good news for us is that all of our Supreme Court justices are in good health and doing their job. And we pray that they are able to continue that.”
Murkowski’s official Friday night statement did not mention where she now stands on a vote to confirm a replacement for Ginsburg, although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did say he will make sure that any nominee put forward by President Donald Trump gets a vote.
The Senate and the nation mourn the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the conclusion of her extraordinary American life.
My full statement: pic.twitter.com/NOwYLhDxIk
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) September 19, 2020
“In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term,” McConnell said. “We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.
“By contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” the Senate majority leader added. “Once again, we will keep our promise.”
Ginsburg had sat on the court since 1993, when she was nominated by then-President Bill Clinton.
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