HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — The question over whether to replace U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the upcoming election looms large for both of Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senators.
Both Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Bob Casey have offered their condolences to Ginsburg’s family. The justice, who had served on the Supreme Court since 1993, succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 87.
Toomey said he disagreed with Ginsburg’s stances on a range of issues, but said she demonstrated how to disagree with someone without “being disagreeable.”
“As just the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer in the legal profession,” Toomey wrote over the weekend.
“Justice Ginsburg was a pioneer for gender equality, a champion for human rights and a fierce defender of workers on an increasingly corporate Supreme Court,” he said. “Her heroic battles with cancer inspired countless Americans. I extend condolences to her family and may her memory be a blessing to millions of Americans.”
But both senators have taken a different approach on what comes next: confirming the late Justice’s successor.
Toomey has so far refused to say where he stands on the timing of her replacement. When pressed, a spokesperson for the senator refused to comment, writing in a statement Toomey will have “more soon.”
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to hold a vote to confirm whoever President Trump nominates before the upcoming election, which has drawn ire from Democrats and even some Republicans such as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R, Alaska) and Sen. Susan Collins (R, Maine).
Both initially broke with the GOP majority during Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation in 2018, but Collins ultimately voted to confirm that nomination while Murkowski voted present.
In 2016, Toomey wanted voters to have a “more direct say” in replacing Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February of that year. McConnell then blocked President Obama’s nominee from getting a confirmation hearing.
Toomey is facing pressure to take that approach this time around. The Republican is up for re-election in 2022 and won his 2016 contest against Democrat Katie McGinty by only 1.5%.
Casey, meanwhile, said he wants the Senate to hold off on a confirmation vote until after the election.
“It is disturbing and hypocritical that Republican Senators would attempt to fill this vacancy now while Americans across the country have already begun casting their ballots in this presidential election, especially when they were unwilling to even grant a hearing to President Obama’s nominee to the court in early 2016,” he said in a statement.
The GOP has a 53 to 47 majority in the Senate, leaving McConnell ample room to confirm a nominee even if several GOP senators defect. Vice President Pence can weigh in as the tiebreaker.
It’s unclear right now how quickly the Senate confirmation process could take place, as it usually happens over the span of a few months.
President Trump said he intends to nominate a woman this week.