The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sent waves of shock across the country on Friday evening, leading to mass mourning on what would typically be a day of celebration, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. But the news also comes just 46 days before the 2020 presidential election and immediately became politicized.
Within hours of reports of Ginsburg’s death, the donation ticker on ActBlue, a nonprofit organization that enables left-leaning nonprofits, Democrats, and progressive groups to raise money online, began increasing rapidly, with about $100,000 in donations each minute.
One group, Get Mitch or Die Trying, a fund created by Crooked Media which donates to 13 close Senate races in an attempt to flip the Congressional body from Republican-majority to Democratic-majority saw a huge increase in funding. The group reported at least $1.5 million in donations in the hour after Ginsburg’s death was made public.
The donations came in as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear that he would attempt to replace Ginsburg with a Supreme Court Justice who was vetted and approved by President Donald Trump. “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” said McConnell in a statement Friday evening.
After Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia’s death in 2016, McConnell refused to appoint then-President Barack Obama’s Justice pick, Merrick Garland, to the court, saying that it was an election year and thus unfair.
“In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise,” McConnell said in his statement Friday. “Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.”
Democrats, meanwhile, are saying that a vote to appoint a Supreme Court Justice would be unfair and should wait until after the election on November 3. Logistically, it is unlikely that McConnell would be able to nominate and schedule a vote for the next Justice before the election. If Democrats are able to flip the Senate and potentially the White House, McConnell’s argument would become invalid, thus fueling donations for Democratic candidates.
Even some Republicans question the timeline. “I’d like to fill a vacancy. But we’d have to see. I don’t know how practical that would be,” Senator Lindsey Graham hypothetically told CNN in July. “Let’s see what the market would bear.”
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