Republican Sen. Mitt Romney announced Tuesday that he would participate in a floor vote to replace U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the November 3 general election, triggering condemnation and a fresh wave of vows from progressives that they will keep fighting to ensure the next elected president gets to pick the nominee.
Ginsburg's death Friday ignited a political battle in the midst of early voting for the election, with President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pledging to soon hold a vote and progressives pressuring the upper chamber to abide by the standard Republicans set ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
Four GOP senators would have to side with Democrats to reject a third Trump nominee to the court. Although Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said over the weekend that they both oppose holding a vote this close to an election, so far no others from the party have joined them.
Romney's revelation Tuesday didn't come as a huge surprise—"Not shocked," tweetedMoveOn—but it did bolster calls to increase pressure on Senate Democrats to use all the tools at their disposal to block a pre-election or lame-duck session vote.
"Not surprising. He's a Republican. Water is wet," Working Families Party national director Maurice Moe Mitchell said of Romney and his decision on the Supreme Court vote. "Let's organize. 42 days left. Sweep em out."
Indivisible co-founder and co-executive director Ezra Levin responded similarly to the Utah Repblican's move, saying: "This is bad, but it ain't over til the votes are cast. Fury—our political system needs your fury right now."
Acknowledging the calls for Republicans to follow their own made-up rules—created when McConnell blocked a vote on former President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016—Romney said that his decision "is not the result of a subjective test of 'fairness' which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder."
"It is based on the immutable fairness of following the law, which in this case is the Constitution and precedent," the senator added. "I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the president's nominee. If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications."
Critics pushed back against his claim about precedent in light of McConnell's 2016 move. As Zack Ford of Alliance for Justice put it in a tweet responding to the statement: "Oh, I see Romney has joined in the lie-telling. This is absolute hogwash."
In a statement, Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, accused Romney of joining with Republican leadership in "a shameful political power grab" that "shows the terrifying extent to which they value their power over the people they represent."
"The legitimacy of the Supreme Court flows directly from voters' ability to shape its composition through the election of a president and Senate," she said. "By attempting to force through this nomination, Republican leadership is displaying their utter disregard for the will of the people."
Indivisible addressed Romney's statement in a series of tweets, emphasizing the importance of both continuing to pressure senators and also flipping the upper chamber to Democratic control. As Common Dreams reported Friday, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Trump's comments on the election, progressive groups are urging voters who can to take advantage of early in-person and mail-in voting.
"Justice Ginsburg was a champion of justice, a trailblazer for women, and an American icon," Indivisible tweeted Tuesday. "Unfortunately, we know that anyone Trump picks will be a right-wing extremist who opposes the Affordable Care Act and will overturn Roe v. Wade, among many other terrible attributes."
"We won't lie to you—this is going to be hard but that doesn't mean we won't fight like hell anyways," the group added, urging voters to make a plan using its Save SCOTUSwebpage. "Then sign up to host an event this weekend. We need you."