A significant majority of Americans say that November’s elections should determine who chooses Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successor on the Supreme Court, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sunday.
Overall, 62% of people want the winner of the upcoming presidential election to fill the vacancy, and just 23% disagreed. Notably, that 62% includes half of Republicans, even as Senate Republicans line up behind Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on rushing to seat a replacement in direct violation of the principle they claimed to embrace throughout virtually all of 2016 as they refused to even give a hearing to Judge Merrick Garland, then-President Obama’s choice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Scalia died in February, 2016, and Republicans held that seat open for the 10 months until the presidential election, claiming piously that it was on principle, that it would be outrageously wrong to allow a president to choose a Supreme Court justice in an election year. Now, of course, it’s a very different story from those same Republicans, as they rush to pack the court before Trump (potentially) leaves office.
Republicans get away with a lot of power-grabbing hypocrisy, but this is going to be one of the highest-profile examples of it.
At this point, Ginsburg’s death does not appear to give either Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden a decisive edge, with 25% of people polled saying they would be more likely to vote for Trump as a result and 30% saying they would be more likely to vote for Biden. That’s an early reaction, of course, and one that could change. With Biden leading more generally in election polls, the critical thing is that the battle over replacing Ginsburg doesn’t provide Trump with the boost he’s been needing.