Graham praises Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a 'trailblazer' who 'served with honor and distinction'

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham has paid tribute to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday at 87, as a “trailblazer” who served with “honor and distinction.”

“It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Justice Ginsburg,” he said. "Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer who possessed tremendous passion for her causes. She served with honor and distinction as a member of the Supreme Court.”

AFTER RUTH BADER GINSBURG'S DEATH, WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE SUPREME COURT? 

Ginsburg died Friday from complications surrounding metastatic pancreatic cancer. The late Supreme Court justice, who spent more than two decades on the bench in the highest court of the land, is survived by her two children, Jane Carol and James Steven Ginsburg.

“While I had many differences with her on legal philosophy, I appreciate her service to our nation,” he said. “My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.”

Graham, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which conducts hearings for Supreme Court nominees, is being watched for whether he will support a nomination for Ginsburg’s replacement in an election year.

Republicans refused to consider Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s pick to replace Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, because it was an election year. Democrats are now demanding Republicans do the same with this vacancy.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that the Senate would vote this year on a replacement and that the precedent for the Senate holding off applies when it is a nominee from a president of an opposition party.

SUPREME COURT JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG DEAD AT 87

Graham himself pledged in 2018 that Republicans would not fill a SCOTUS vacancy in an election year.

"If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump's term, and the primary process has started, we'll wait to the next election," Graham said at the time.

But this year, he said that Garland was a “different situation.”

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“You had the president of one party nominating, and you had the Senate in the hands of the other party. A situation where you've got them both would be different. I don't want to speculate, but I think appointing judges is a high priority for me in 2020,” Graham said in an interview.

"If you look into the history of the country, there had not been an occasion where somebody was confirmed in a presidential election year after primary started when you had divided government," he added.

Fox News’ Bill Mears contributed to this report.