U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on Saturday said she opposes replacing the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the November election, though she would not object if the Senate began the process of vetting President Trump’s potential nominee.

“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,” Collins, a key swing vote, said in a statement Saturday afternoon.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last February Patrick Semansky/Associated Press, file

Ginsburg, 87, died Friday at her Washington, D.C., home from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. In a letter dictated to a family member, the iconic jurist and women’s rights advocate asked that she not be replaced until after the presidential inauguration in January.

“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg said.

Nevertheless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday that Trump’s nominee for Ginsburg’s seat would get a confirmation vote.

For much of 2016, McConnell refused to consider then-President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, saying the American people should weigh in on the pick through the upcoming election.


But this time the situation is different, McConnell said. Americans gave Republicans the Senate majority “because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” McConnell said in a statement shortly after Ginsburg’s death was announced Friday night. “Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

In her statement Saturday, Collins said she would have “no objection” to the Senate’s reviewing the credentials of a Trump nominee, but added that the seat ultimately should be filled by the winner of the upcoming presidential election.

“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,” Collins said. “President Trump has the constitutional authority to make a nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, and I would have no objection to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s beginning the process of reviewing his nominee’s credentials.”

She added: “Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election.”

She then said that the decision on the lifetime appointment to the high court should be made by whoever is elected president on Nov. 3.

Collins, known as a moderate Republican, was a critical swing vote in favor of the contentious confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. Maine’s senior senator will face considerable pressure over Ginsburg’s replacement during her toughest re-election battle yet; prominent election observers have rated her race against Sara Gideon, speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, as a toss-up.


Gideon added $3.7 million to her campaign chest after winning the Democratic Senate primary – money that critics of Collins incensed by her Kavanaugh vote raised for her eventual challenger. Collins’ support for Kavanaugh earned the ire of many women because of his views on abortion and accusations of sexual misconduct that surfaced during his confirmation hearing.

On Friday night, a Collins spokesman declined to answer questions about a possible replacement for Ginsburg, instead forwarding a statement from the senator that called the late justice “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.” The statement did not address Ginsburg’s potential successor.

Earlier this month, Collins told The New York Times that she would not support voting on a new justice in October. “I think that’s too close,” she said.

Sen. Angus King. I-Maine, urged McConnell not to confirm an appointment before the election.

“With less than fifty days until the upcoming election – and an anxious, divided America watching – Senator 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 in a statement Friday night.

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