The Atlantic

What Republican Senators Say in Private

With a Supreme Court vacancy after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, Republican senators must again choose between country and party.
Source: Mark Reinstein / Alex Wong / Getty

Updated on September 19, 2020, at 6:08 p.m. ET.

Nearly every reporter in Washington has experienced it: A Republican member of Congress says “off the record,” shifts into a quieter voice, and expresses how much he or she doesn’t like President Donald Trump. Soon after, you watch this same elected official speak up in favor of the president—or, more often, avoid saying anything meaningful at all. Sometimes about the same issue that they were complaining about to you in private. Sometimes within the same day. Sometimes within the same hour.

The battle to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is a pivotal moment for these whispering Republicans in the Senate.

The prospect of a conservative-heavy Court persuaded many Trump-wary conservatives to support him in 2016. This election, Ginsburg’s death will likely energize Biden-wary Democrats—millions of dollars

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