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Nevada senators gird for Supreme battle after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death

Updated September 18, 2020 - 7:00 pm

WASHINGTON — The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was lauded as a towering advocate for women and voting rights Friday by Nevada’s two Democratic senators who were preparing for an upcoming political battle over the vacancy.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Sen. Jacky Rosen, aides said, expect there will be a brutal battle with President Donald Trump and Republicans in the Senate to confirm a conservative justice to replace the liberal lion Ginsburg.

“From her fierce advocacy for women to her defense of voting rights, she stood for justice,” said Cortez Masto, a former Nevada attorney general and federal prosecutor.

“And she will remain a role model for generations of young women,” Cortez Masto said.

Rosen, a former synagogue president, was notified about the death while observing Rosh Hashanah in Las Vegas.

“I share in our nation’s grief, and pledge to fight tirelessly to see that the monumental and historic work of Justice Ginsburg is honored for generations to come, Rosen said.

SCOTUS short list

President Donald Trump has vowed to fill any vacancy and offered up a list of 20 candidates who he could nominate for the high court, including 9th U.S. Circuit Court Judge Lawrence VanDyke of Nevada, who was appointed to the appellate bench on a party line vote earlier this year.

Both Cortez Masto and Rosen opposed VanDyke’s confirmation.

Also on the list was of potential justices was Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who said he would decline the nomination if selected.

With Ginsburg’s death, the balance of the court could become even more conservative than the current 5-4 split. The vacancy comes in a heated presidential election year where Republicans are defending more seats, and Democrats have an opportunity to recapture the Senate majority.

Although Trump has yet to nominate a candidate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., released a statement Friday that said Trump’s nominee to fill the open seat “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

McConnell and Senate Republicans blocked President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, refusing to call a confirmation vote in 2016 to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Friday that the Senate should not act on filling the Supreme Court vacancy until after the presidential election.

Democrats are expected to back Schumer, who used McConnell’s words from 2016 to urge that the Senate wait until after the election before considering a nominee selected by whomever wins on Nov. 3.

Filibuster changed

The Senate filibuster tradition that allowed the minority party to block a nominee to the high court was abolished by McConnell and Senate Republicans, who have confirmed two conservatives, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. That followed the Senate’s abandonment of the filibuster for administration officials and lower-court nominees that took place when Democrats were in control of the Senate.

Former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who led the Senate’s initial changes to the filibuster rules, said Democrats should fight a Trump nomination to fill Ginsburg’s seat.

“If Republicans attempt to force yet another nominee onto the Supreme Court against the will of the American people, then they risk delegitimizing themselves and their party even more,” Reid said. “Doing so would further tear our country apart and take our democracy down a perilous road. Democrats must do everything in their power to prevent this from happening and ensure the voices of the American people are heard.”

With a battle royale expected over the next few months, lawmakers in Washington, on both sides of the political aisle, took time to speak in reverent tones about Ginsburg, the second woman to serve as a justice on the high court.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg inspired generations of young girls to become fearless women,” said Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev.

“Her commitment to equal justice for all forever changed the course of our nation’s history and turned the tide against discrimination based on sex. She was truly the conscience of the Court,” Titus said.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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