WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said on Wednesday she hoped “cooler heads will prevail” over the vacancy on the Supreme Court, suggesting that Republicans should act on President Barack Obama’s nominee.
Ginsburg’s comments at Georgetown Law Center came a day after Democrats in the Republican-controlled Senate renewed their push for a confirmation hearing for Obama’s pick, appeals court judge Merrick Garland.
The nomination has been pending for 175 days without Senate action, the longest ever to the high court.
Republicans have said the next president should get to make the appointment because the vacancy, created by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in February, came in the final year of Obama’s presidency.
“I do think that cooler heads will prevail, I hope sooner rather than later,” Ginsburg said.
Ginsburg, 83, a liberal appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1993, acknowledged that the Senate, which has the responsibility to confirm or reject judicial nominations, did not have to confirm the nominee. But she said it did have an obligation to at least consider Garland instead of taking no action at all.
“The president is elected for four years, not three years,” she said in relation to the president’s authority to make appointments in the final year of a term. “Maybe some members of the Senate will wake up and appreciate that that’s how it should be.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Democratic senators held a press conference outside the Supreme Court demanding action on the nomination.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has so far held firm to his pledge to take no action.
The nine-seat court has been one justice short since Scalia’s death. With four liberals and four conservatives now on the bench, an appointment by a Democratic president could end decades of conservative domination on the court.
Ginsburg has a long track record of making sometimes outspoken public remarks, in stark contrast to most of her colleagues. In July, she issued a statement in which she said she regretted comments she made in press interviews criticizing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
In one CNN interview she described him as a “faker.”
Photo: U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrives to watch U.S. President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 20, 2015. Picture TAKEN January 20, 2015. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo