WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — For the second night in a row, mourners gathered on the steps of the United States Supreme Court to pay their respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Unlike Friday night, Saturday’s event was a coordinated program with songs and speakers, including Democratic Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York. and Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts.
“What I say to people is, do not get lost in a sea of despair,” said Congressman Mark Takano, a Democrat from California who came to the Supreme Court to pay his respects. Takano said he’ll remember her for the legacy she leaves behind, both as a jurist and a cultural icon, and said her death shook him.
“It hit me very emotionally,” Takano said.
Reaction from lawmakers came pouring in from across the political spectrum.
“Even those who disagreed with many of her decisions recognize Justice Ginsburg was a woman of extraordinary intellect & an American who had a historic impact on the court & the nation,” said Republican Senator Marco Rubio said in a statement.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted about Ginsburg’s passing.
“Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer who possessed tremendous passion for her causes. She served with honor and distinction as a member of the Supreme Court,” said Graham.
“It’s a tremendous loss to the country, and it certainly is a loss to the court,” said Paul Schiff Berman, a George Washington law professor who clerked under Ginsberg. Schiff Berman said Ginsburg relished being role model for young girls.
“I think it was actually a role she took very seriously,” he said.
Schiff Berman said he expects the upcoming Senate battle to fill her vacant seat will galvanize voters in both parties.
“To any fair-minded person who cares about the institutional integrity of the court, we need to wait until this new election is over,” said Schiff Berman.
Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, and Susan Collins, of Maine, have both stated publicly they do not believe the Republican-led Senate should hold a vote for President Trump’s nominee, whoever they may be. Rather, both have said they would prefer to wait until after the election and inauguration of whoever wins the presidential election in November.
“The president has said he needs to move forward on it. I do believe he needs to move forward on it as well,” said Georgia Republican Doug Collins.
He says this moment is different from 2016, when a Republican-controlled Senate blocked President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, from receiving a hearing in the Senate for eleven months.
“President Obama was leaving,” said Collins. “That was a whole different issue. President Trump can now nominate a justice, the people of the United States will be able to have a voice.”
“We’re no longer talking about coronavirus or President Trump’s record on handling it. We’re talking about who is the most qualified candidate to be on the Supreme Court,” said Ron Bonjean, who guided Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch during his confirmation process.
Bonjean said there’s a reason Senator Mitch McConnell, and Senate Republicans would move to nominate a conservative justice.
“This is a chance for Republicans to add another seat to the Supreme Court. The Democrats, if they were in the same place, would do the exact same thing.”
On Saturday, 10 Democratic senators signed a letter addressed to Republican Lindsey Graham, urging him not to consider a nominee to fill Ginsburg’s seat until after the next president is inaugurated.
Using Graham’s own words from 2016, when he said:
“If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say ‘Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination,’ and you can use my words against me and you’d be absolutely right.”
Democrats, including President Obama, have supported the constitutional right of presidents to nominate a candidate when a spot on the court opens up.
“When there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court, the president of the United States is to nominate someone,” said former President Barack Obama in 2016. The former president’s nomination of Merrick Garland came after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February of 2016, 11 months before President Trump would eventually be inaugurated.
“There’s no unwritten law that says this can only be done in off years, that’s not in the constitutional text,” said former President Obama. The Senate ultimately did not bring Garland’s nomination up for a vote.