Republican Sen. Susan Collins, amid the toughest reelection fight of her career, would not say Friday night whether she would vote to confirm a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before Election Day.

Maine’s other senator, independent Angus King, quickly issued a statement on Twitter making clear that he does not support a nomination process before the election.

Ginsburg, 87, died Friday at her home in Washington from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. She announced in July that she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for lesions on her liver, the latest of her several battles with cancer. One of her final wishes was not to be replaced until the inauguration of the next president in January.

Her requests, dictated to her granddaughter Clara Spera several days before she died, left little doubt: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg said.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already indicated in a statement Friday that he would push forward with whomever President Trump nominates to the post, casting aside his own precedent, set in 2016, when he refused to consider the nomination of Merrick Garland during the final nine months of President Barack Obama’s second term.

In 2018, Collins provided the pivotal vote to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who faced accusations of sexual assault during his confirmation hearing. Her support for Kavanaugh tipped the court decisively toward conservative jurists, and drew intense anger from progressives across the nation, who vowed to unseat Collins during November’s contest.


Her challenger, Democratic state House Speaker Sara Gideon, reaped a $3.7 million cache of donations that were raised for whomever challenged Collins’ seat following the Kavanaugh vote.

On Friday night, a spokesman for Collins twice declined to respond to questions about whether she would support McConnell’s vow to bring a nominee to the Senate floor, providing a written statement instead.

“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a trailblazer for women’s rights, a fierce champion for equality, and an extremely accomplished American who broke countless barriers in the field of law,” Collins said in a prepared statement. “Throughout her life, Justice Ginsburg surmounted discrimination and sexism through her brilliance, tenacity, and wit, becoming one of the most prominent legal luminaries of our time.”

Collins told The New York Times this month that she would not support voting on a new justice in October. “I think that’s too close,” she said.

King, meanwhile, was unequivocal.

“With less than fifty days until the upcoming election – and an anxious, divided America watching – Senator McConnell should honor Justice Ginsburg’s life and legacy by abiding by her final wish that this vacancy not be filled until the election has been decided.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree, who also released a statement mourning the loss of a liberal icon, urged her Senate colleagues to follow McConnell’s 2016 example.

“With less than two months until the election, the Senate should not confirm anyone for this seat until the voters have spoken,” Pingree said. “Senate Republicans refused to consider President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court at the end of his presidency and President Trump should be given the exact same treatment.”

Rep. Jared Golden did not return a request for comment about Ginsburg’s death.

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