Democrats and Republicans think U.S. leaders should wait to confirm a new justice. In a poll conducted over the weekend by Reuters and Ipsos, 62 percent of respondents said that picking a Supreme Court justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg—who passed away on Friday—should be left to whoever wins the presidential election in November. This was the position of around 50 percent of the Republicans polled and 80 percent of the Democrats.
It is not the position of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said the Senate will vote on a Trump replacement nominee by the end of the year.
"There are obvious incentives for the GOP to try to ram through a nominee before the clock might run out on the current president and Senate majority," points out Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy. "If they succeed, they could transform the previous narrow 5–4 conservative majority on the Court into a much more secure 6–3 margin that could last for years to come."
What do the chattering classes think should be done?
"President Trump should promptly nominate the late Justice Ginsburg's successor, but Senators should delay a final vote on the nomination until after the election," suggests Adam J. White at The Bulwark:
If Trump wins reelection, then his victory will secure not just the new justice's appointment, but also her public legitimacy. And if Trump loses, then Senate Republicans and Democrats will have an opportunity to commit to not pack the Court, and thus to not destroy it.
It's a plan so sensible that you know party bigwigs on both sides will hate it…
The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf muses about something a little more radical:
I sometimes think that if we made a
Supreme Court II that had exclusive jurisdiction over abortion cases but no other power, then the politics around Supreme Court I would be a lot closer to ideal.
— Conor Friedersdorf (@conor64) September 19, 2020
Charles C.W. Cooke wonders what all the fuss is about:
I must confess that, while I accept that the history is certainly on the side of filling it, I have never found this debate especially meaningful. As I wrote when Antonin Scalia died, this is an entirely straightforward question, the details of which are the same at all times within the cycle. In our system, the president gets to nominate a justice, and the Senate gets to decide whether to accept that nomination, to reject that nomination, or, if it likes, to completely ignore that nomination. This was true in 2016, and it is true now. The game requires both players. If they are both willing, the vacancy is filled. If one is not willing, the vacancy remains. And that, ultimately, is all there is to it.
Since Ginsburg's death, two GOP senators—Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska—have said they think the decision should be left to whoever wins the election. The Senate currently has a 53–47 Republican majority.
"The looming fight over the Supreme Court vacancy so far does not appear to have given either of the two major political parties much of an advantage in an incendiary campaign season," Reuters reports. In its recent poll with Ipsos,
30% of American adults said that Ginsburg's death will make them more likely to vote for Biden while 25% said they were now more likely to support Trump. Another 38% said that it had no impact on their interest in voting, and the rest said they were not sure.
Ginsburg's death has brought in a record amount of donations for Democrats.
"Democratic donors gave more money online in the 9 p.m. hour Friday after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death was announced—$6.2 million—than in any other single hour since ActBlue, the donation-processing site, was started 16 years ago," reports The New York Times. "Then donors broke the site's record again in the 10 p.m. hour when donors gave another $6.3 million—more than $100,000 per minute."
Donald Trump is still trying to milk the forced sale of TikTok to his own advantage. The president's latest harebrained scheme on this front is to condition permission for the deal on compelling the company helping to pay for his new public-school propaganda initiatives.
TRUMP wants the $5 billion from the Tiktok Global deal to pay for "patriotic education" via his envisioned "1776 Commission."
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) September 19, 2020
Meanwhile, a federal judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of Trump's ban on the Tencent messaging app WeChat.
Don't be too alarmed about a new study purportedly showing that airplanes are super-risky for catching COVID-19.
I'm baffled by the amount of airplane risk freak out I'm seeing about this single study, which you will see below, is far far from conclusive plus has an unmasked, actively coughing person as suspect. Always read the full paper and the appendix, and think about the denominator. https://t.co/geFtX0X8y2
— zeynep tufekci (@zeynep) September 19, 2020
So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has "investigated 1,600 cases of people who flew while at risk of spreading the coronavirus," notes The Washington Post. "But though the agency says some of those travelers subsequently fell ill, in the face of incomplete contact tracing information and a virus that incubates over several days, it has not been able to confirm a case of transmission on a plane."
In other CDC news: At least several months after scientists, media, and the general public learned that COVID-19 is primarily spread through the air rather than infected surfaces, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is changing its COVID-19 guidance to reflect this.
CDC changes COVID-19 guidance, airborne is primary way the virus spreads, touching surfaces is NOT the main way. #Ventilation is important, as it goes beyond 6 ft and remains suspended in the air.
H/T @jljcolorado & @jmcrookston pic.twitter.com/8EZ86q3V6i
— David Elfstrom (@DavidElfstrom) September 20, 2020
• Virginia has wasted no time in stripping people of their Second Amendment rights since its new "red flag" law went into effect. "At least three dozen Virginia residents have been prohibited temporarily or permanently from having firearms or purchasing them based on a new state law letting courts decide they would be a danger to themselves or others," reports the Associated Press.
• The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit "recently did something that is at once simple and radical," says The Hill. The court "said the usual constitutional rules that apply to normal police all over the country also apply" to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
• Thailand sees more mass protests against the monarchy.
• "The percentage of Americans who say they have heard 'a lot' or 'a little' about QAnon has roughly doubled" since March, reports the Pew Research Center of its latest poll findings. "Democrats are somewhat more likely to have heard at least a little about these theories than Republicans (55% versus 39%, respectively)."
• Five ways that Justice Ginsburg's death will affect the Supreme Court before her successor is confirmed.
• A headline you probably didn't expect to see at the start of the year: "DOJ Designates New York City as an 'Anarchist Jurisdiction.'"