Puh-retty sure a SCOTUS vacancy next year in the middle of the election would be the end of the country as we know it.
Here is the full statement from the Supreme Court:
“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg today completed a three-week course of stereotactic ablative radiation therapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The focused radiation treatment began on August 5 and was administered on an outpatient basis to treat a tumor on her pancreas. The abnormality was first detected after a routine blood test in early July, and a biopsy performed on July 31 at Sloan Kettering confirmed a localized malignant tumor. As part of her treatment, a bile duct stent was placed. The Justice tolerated treatment well. She cancelled her annual summer visit to Santa Fe, but has otherwise maintained an active schedule. The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body. Justice Ginsburg will continue to have periodic blood tests and scans. No further treatment is needed at this time.”
This is her fourth bout with cancer, this time at the age of 86. A Twitter pal joked that she’s America’s answer to Keith Richards. Despite death’s best efforts, she’ll outlive us all.
As for the politics of this, Seth Mandel said it best:
The whole thing with RBG makes me so uncomfortable. "Just stay alive until…" is basically the national mood, and it says so much about so much.
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) August 23, 2019
The White House has been preparing for a Court vacancy — just in case — since at least January of this year, following Ginsburg’s last health scare. What would happen if a seat opened up in 2020, an election year, with Americans months away from going to the polls? Would the Senate hold that seat open as it did in 2016 on the theory that the people should choose who gets to nominate the departed justice’s successor or would the Republican majority fill it? Oh, we’d fill it, McConnell said a few months ago. Damn right we’d fill it, Trump acknowledged more recently.
Would they have the votes, though? Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is on record as saying the seat should be held open under the Merrick Garland precedent. I suspect Susan Collins would insist upon that too, as she’s facing a tough reelection in Maine and doesn’t want to alienate lefties any further after helping to confirm Brett Kavanaugh. Murkowski has proved repeatedly already that she’ll defy Trump when she feels like it, so she’d potentially be a third vote. Three Republicans against confirming a new nominee until after the election would leave the vote at 50/50, with any remaining Republican capable of blocking the confirmation. Would Romney do it? What about Cory Gardner, who’s also up next year and worried about a Trump backlash in bluish Colorado?
I think they’d all come around and vote for confirmation (except maybe Murkowski), with Graham coughing up whatever thin excuse he needs to in order to justify breaking his earlier pledge. If they didn’t, they’d face as much of a backlash from the right for refusing to confirm as they would from the left if they did confirm, and in the end they all need their own party’s voters locked in before they go fishing on the other side of the pond. The funny thing about it, though, is that Trump will naturally be bragging every day at the time that he’s on course for reelection, a mortal lock to win again, headed for the landslide to end all landslides, etc. If his own fans believed that then there’d be little risk to postponing the confirmation battle: Trump would simply make the appointment in his second term. The fact that there’s grave doubt about a second term just under the surface of supreme confidence is what would require McConnell and the rest to rubber-stamp a nominee to the Court.