Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine on Friday called the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “one of the most prominent legal luminaries of our time.” But she waited until Saturday to address whether the nomination of her successor should happen now, or after the election.
Ginsburg died Friday at her home in Washington. She was 87. Her death opens the door for Republican President Donald Trump and the Senate to speed through a Supreme Court nomination. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to call for a vote on Trump’s nominee, even though he blocked then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination in 2016 in an election year.
Sen. Collins said Saturday she does not believe that the Senate should vote on any nominee prior to the election, according to a statement posted to her Twitter account just after 4 p.m.
"In order for the American people to have faith in their elected officials, we must act fairly and consistently--no matter which political party is in power," she said.
Collins, however, acknowledged that President Trump has the constitution authority to make a nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, and did say she would not object to the Senate Judiciary Committee's beginning the process of reviewing his nominee's credentials.
But the Maine senator said the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by whoever is elected on Nov. 3.
"In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd," she said.
Both independent Sen. Angus King and Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine also say there should be no successor until after the election.
McConnell should “honor Justice Ginsburg’s life and legacy by abiding by her final wish that this vacancy not be filled until the election has been decided,” King said.
“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a giant. A brilliant jurist, who spent her life making our country a fairer, more equitable place for all its citizens. Her unparalleled mind, her unbending backbone and her unfailing determination were formidable, making her not only one of the nation’s foremost legal minds but also a cultural icon who inspired countless young Americans to fight for their beliefs,” King said.
Collins said she got to know Ginsburg when women serving in the Senate had dinner several times with Ginsburg and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a trailblazer for women’s rights, a fierce champion for equality and an extremely accomplished American who broke countless barriers in the field of law. Throughout her life, Justice Ginsburg surmounted discrimination and sexism through her brilliance, tenacity and wit, becoming one of the most prominent legal luminaries of our time,” Collins said.
Photos: Americans Mourn Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Collins, who’s seeking a fifth term, is being challenged by Democrat Sara Gideon, speaker of the Maine House.
“Throughout her life, Justice Ginsburg fought for women’s rights, reproductive rights, and a more just and fair society. Let us continue that fight in her memory and be inspired by her example for generations to come,” Gideon said.
Pingree called Ginsburg “a towering pioneer and progressive icon.”
“For nearly 30 years, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg served as a counterpoint on a Supreme Court long dominated by conservative jurists. She was always a reliable voice for the downtrodden and disenfranchised and that’s why her passing feels so devastating to so many Americans,” Pingree said.