North Carolina senators react to death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Moss Brennan and Abi Pepin

After serving 27 years, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Sept. 18 from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. She was 87. 

Ginsburg was known for fighting for reproductive justice and gender equality. The Senate confirmed her nomination to the Supreme Court in a 96-3 vote in 1993. 

Ginsburg’s death means a seat for the highest court in the land is open. 

After her death, politicians are eager for a new nomination to fill the new vacancy even after early voting for the presidential election has started in some states.

Here’s what North Carolina Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr said about Ginsburg’s death and filling a Supreme Court seat now compared to 2016 — when there was a vacancy under President Barack Obama during a presidential election year. 

Thom Tillis

Tillis released a statement the day after Ginsburg died calling her a “pioneer who honorably served our nation for 27 years on the Supreme Court.” 

Here’s what he said about the vacancy on the Court she left behind: 

“Four years ago, a Supreme Court vacancy arose under divided government and a lame-duck president as Americans were choosing his successor. Today, however, President Trump is again facing voters at the ballot box and North Carolinians will ultimately render their judgment on his presidency and how he chooses to fill the vacancy.

“There is a clear choice on the future of the Supreme Court between the well-qualified and conservative jurist President Trump will nominate and I will support, and the liberal activist Joe Biden will nominate and Cal Cunningham will support, who will legislate radical, left-wing policies from the bench.”

Here’s what he had to say in 2016 when Obama tried to fill a seat after Justice Antonin Scalia died:

“While President Obama is entitled to nominate an individual to the Supreme Court, the Senate has made it clear it will be exercising its Constitutional authority to withhold consent of the nomination. We are in the middle of a presidential election, and the Senate majority is giving the American people a voice to determine the direction of the Supreme Court.”  

Richard Burr

Burr released a statement the day after Ginsburg died, saying he was saddened to learn of her passing. 

He called her a trailblazer and tireless advocate for equality and opportunity for all Americans. 

“While she and I may not have agreed on many policy issues, I know her unique voice will be greatly missed by her beloved family, her friends, and her colleagues on the Court,” Burr stated. 

Burr has not yet commented on filling the vacancy left by Ginsburg’s death, but he opposed Obama’s nominee — Merrick Garland — in 2016:  

“The American people deserve a voice in the nomination of the next Supreme Court Justice. This appointment could easily tip the balance of the court in a direction not supported by the American people as evidenced by 2014’s election results giving Republicans both the Senate and House,” Burr stated in a press release from 2014.

This story will be updated if Richard Burr releases a statement on filling the seat.