There is a vacancy on the United States Supreme Court due to the recent passing of former Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The current makeup of the high court calls for eight Associate Justices and one Chief Justice. It hasn't always been that way and is subject to change. But at the moment, that is the law.

The rules of the U.S. Senate are clear on what happens when a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court occurs:

"When a vacancy occurs on the Supreme Court, the President of the United States is given the authority, under Article II of the United States Constitution, to nominate a person to fill the vacancy. The nomination is referred to the United States Senate, where the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing where the nominee provides testimony and responds to questions from members of the panel. Traditionally, the Committee refers the nomination to the full Senate for consideration."

President Donald J. Trump has a responsibility under the law to nominate a replacement to fill the vacancy created by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He may defer that responsibility to whoever wins the election in November, or he may act immediately. The choice is his.

Nowhere is a written that Trump must defer if the Democrats are offended. Nowhere does it say he must delay the nomination because some on the other side are threatening violence.

Now, you may feel it would be nice for Trump to delay the process until after the election. Some Senators are suggesting that he do that. It is certainly your right, but it is not the law. And a review of history would show that it is not the norm.

When former Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly in 2016, many Democrats insisted that lame-duck Democrat President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland receive a vote in the Senate. The Republicans controlled the Senate at the time, and the Democrats were unable to force a vote. Obama once said, "elections have consequences." Yes, they do.

By the way, the Democrats did not offer in 2016 to let the winner of the next election make a nomination to fill Scalia's seat.

In this case, the Republicans control the White House and the Senate. Not only did voters give Republicans control of the Senate in 2016, but they also increased the party's numbers in the 2018 midyear elections. The majority of voters believe this appointment belongs to the Republicans.

With the multitude of issues surrounding this election and the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court might have a role in determining its outcome, it is of utmost importance that a full bench is seated as quickly as possible.

Mr. President, fill that seat.

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 and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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