Senate Republicans appear to be hanging tough as the debate intensifies over how and when to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. They had better, as their credibility for all time is on the line.

The unfortunate passing of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday has created an opening on the high court. President Donald J. Trump has indicated he will proceed under Article II of the U.S. Constitution to fill the vacancy immediately. That is his right. It is his duty under the law. So far, there appear to be enough Republicans siding with Trump to make it happen.

The Democrat Party is seething. Democrats want Trump to leave the seat empty until after the upcoming presidential election, at which time the next president would nominate a replacement for Ginsburg. A president, if he or she is lucky, might get to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Trump has already filled two vacancies and is about to nominate a third potential justice.

The Democrats and the media are exerting maximum pressure on Senate Republicans to "be fair" and delay a vote until after the elections. But in 2016, they thought a vacancy that arose as a result of Antonin Scalia's death should be filled right away even though it was an election year.

Republicans are petrified of bad press or of seeming unfair. They generally talk a good game and then fold like a cheap tent. Their failure to "repeal and replace" Obamacare is an example.

If a Democrat was president at this moment, there is no doubt Ginsburg's seat would be filled pronto. And it should be. When the same party controls the White House and the Senate during an election year, vacancies on the Supreme Court are almost always filled. Do you really believe the Democrats would be talking about a delay out of fairness? Try and convince me of that.

The Republicans have a chance to pull a legitimate power play here. They need to stand united. Should they fail, their credibility will be lost forever.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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