👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
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The Supreme Court announced Friday that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer, setting up a fight over filling a Supreme Court seat with less than 50 days until the election. “Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement. “Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”
Ginsburg, who was appointed in 1993 by Clinton, was only the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court. She had overcome four bouts with pancreatic, lung, and colon cancer since 1999. And, following a recurrence in July, Ginsburg vowed to stay on the court “as long as I can do the job full steam.”
The vacancy, however, gives Trump the opportunity to name her successor, and Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans have promised to try to fill the vacancy. In 2016, Senate Republicans refused to consider Judge Merrick Garland, saying that holding hearings in the last year of a president’s term would deprive voters of a chance to weigh in on what kind of justice they wanted.
According to a former Trump White House official, McConnell, who has called the obstruction of Garland “the most important decision I’ve made in my political career,” told donors earlier this year “that when R.B.G. meets her reward, even if it’s October, we’re getting our judge. He’s saying it’s our October Surprise.” Following news of Ginsburg’s death, McConnell released a statement announcing that “Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
Senator Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and – in 2018 when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee – Chuck Grassley, however, have previously announced that they were opposed to confirming a new Supreme Court justice in 2020. “Fair is fair,” Murkowski said.
Meanwhile a a rally in Minnesota, Trump – apparently unaware of Ginsburg’s death – launched into a series of sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton and stoked fears of Islamic terrorism that would occur if Biden were elected.
Ginsburg, who once called then-presidential candidate Trump a “faker” and more recently described this period of American history as “an aberration,” dictated the following statement days before her death: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
📌 Day 1330: Trump unveiled a revised list of 20 potential Supreme Court justices that includes Sens. Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz. Trump’s top aides and advisors have encouraged him for months to release an updated list of justices ahead of Election Day as a way to remind his base what’s at stake on November 3. Cotton said he was “honored” to be selected for the list and that he believes “the Supreme Court could use some more justices who understand the difference between applying the law and making the law.” Cruz said in a statement that he is “grateful for the president’s confidence in me and for his leadership in nominating principled constitutionalists to the federal bench.” The list’s release was originally slated to take place prior to the Republican National Convention. (Axios / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)
[Wednesday] The Supreme Court said it will hold arguments by telephone when its new term opens next month. (Bloomberg)
What Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death Means for America. “But her passing less than two months before the presidential election also tosses one more lit match into the tinderbox of national politics in 2020: It will surely inflame a deeply polarized country already riven by a deadly pandemic, a steep economic downturn, and civil unrest in its major cities.” (The Atlantic)
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