Lightfoot Slams ‘Hypocrisy’ Of GOP Push To Fill Ginsburg’s Supreme Court Seat Before Election; Chicago Judge Among Top Contenders

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CHICAGO (CBS) — As President Donald Trump calls on the Senate to fill the vacant Supreme Court Seat left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “without delay,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot is slamming Republicans for hypocrisy, after they blocked former President Barack Obama from filling a vacancy on the nation’s highest court in his last year in office.

Just hours after Ginsburg’s death Friday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he would move forward on filling Ginsburg’s seat. “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” McConnell said in a statement.

Saturday morning, President Trump tweeted: “We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham said on Saturday that he supports President Trump “in any effort to move forward” with a nomination.

Saturday afternoon, Lightfoot called McConnell and Graham for contradicting their stance in 2016, when they refused to hold confirmation hearings for President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant after the death of late Justice Antonin Scalia, arguing voters should get a say in the pick and the vacancy shouldn’t be filled until the next president was sworn in.

“Having set that precedent, they cannot now just tear it up and act as if it didn’t happen,” Lightfoot said.

“I’m discouraged that less than 12 hours after her passing, that partisanship took hold. The hypocrisy of Mitch McConnell, the hypocrisy of Lindsey Graham, they’ll have to have a reckoning with that, but I think what we need to do in this moment is not allow the partisanship to tilt the direction of the court in a way that’s unfair,” she added.

Lightfoot said, as Senate Republicans insisted in 2016 after Scalia’s death, the nomination for Ginsburg’s successor on the high court should be up to the next president.

“In the name of RGB and everything that she stood for, we need to make sure that Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy moves on, and one of the most important ways that we can do that is to stand up to fight back and to vote,” she said.

The mayor said she was “fairly devastated” by Ginsburg’s death, which followed a long battle with metastatic pancreatic cancer.

“My initial thoughts were just to reflect upon the importance of who she was to the law, to women, but really to the legacy of our country,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said she spent time Friday night and Saturday morning reminding herself how important Ginsburg was in fighting for equal rights for women.

“I was thinking about the young women today growing up in a world where we still have challenges, but really where the sky is the limit for their talents, but in a time when I was growing up – not that long ago – women were discriminated against by law,” she said. “Things were baked into the law that made sure that we made less; that we weren’t able to get certain jobs; that we didn’t get benefits, healthcare. I mean every privilege in our lives was constrained by law simply because of our gender, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg really was a champion for changing all of that.”

Meantime, a judge from Chicago apparently is among the leading candidates to be President Trump’s nominee for the seat.

Judges Amy Coney Barrett, Barbara Lagoa and Amul Thapar are among the top contenders for the vacant seat. Barrett, who serves on the 7th Circuit Court, was on the shortlist for the nomination that eventually went to Brett Kavanaugh, who was confirmed to the court after a contentious confirmation process. Barrett may have an advantage as the White House plans to move quickly on the pick, and she has already interviewed with the president. However, Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins may be turned off by Barrett’s anti-abortion views.

Lagoa is another top contender. She serves on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and has several attributes that may endear her to Mr. Trump. A first generation Cuban-American from Florida, a key swing state, Lagoa is known for her staunch conservative positions.

Thapar, who serves on the 6th Circuit Court, is considered a favorite of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If confirmed, he would be the first South Asian-American to serve on the Supreme Court. Sources tell CBS News Thapar is being considered as a courtesy to McConnell, but is not as serious a contender as Barrett or Lagoa.

Others under consideration are Kate Comerford Todd, the deputy White House counsel, and Joan Larsen, a judge on the 6th Circuit Court.

Mr. Trump will be making calls and talking to members of his inner circle, including Vice President Mike Pence, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. The source also expects McConnell to also have a voice in this process, as well as Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.

Mr. Trump’s campaign last week released a list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court in the event of a vacancy in his second term in office — or in his first.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CBS News contributed to this report.)

 

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September 19, 2020 at 03:03PM

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