Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. commiserates with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after announcing her death on April 13, 2015.

A battle over whether Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead is having a political dimension to it.

Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, a Republican, called on Republicans not to attack her character, even while the group attacked GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump for suggesting she was disabled when he said she hadn’t always agreed with him on the court.

Roberts said the only issue before the court is how the court should proceed in the aftermath of Ginsburg’s death.

It’s a day of different political sides, with the conservative wing of the court questioning the legitimacy of Trump’s victory, and Democratic officials on both sides calling on Trump to nominate a successor. A number of Democrats want to see a Republican on the court, and Democrats are playing a close-knit circle of opponents within the party that argue the other side couldn’t win without Ginsburg.

Barring a surprise, the only confirmed nominee to replace Ginsburg and end four decades of conservative dominance of the court is Justice Brett Kavanaugh, nominated by Trump in August.

The Kavanaugh nomination has already overshadowed one of the most important votes of the current term when the Supreme Court affirmed Trump’s travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries. That decision sent the case to the divided 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. It will be up to the appeals court’s staff to determine the legality of the order, and whether the justices should have a public hearing or not.

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President Donald Trump turned around and said congratulations to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after the Senate confirmed him to the federal bench, a decision seen as a reaffirmation of his conservative position. Kavanaugh helped author the original Citizens United case, which is generally viewed as being one of the most significant changes in the political landscape. (Published Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017)

And some Democrats had already targeted the Supreme Court.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said he wanted the agency’s lawyers to complete an analysis of the effect of the travel ban on refugees and other immigrants before any hearings, writing that the fate of immigrants who may come into the country with connections to terrorism “remains uncertain.” Schumer’s letter, which he submitted to Ginsburg’s lawyers, arrived just hours after Ginsburg announced her death Monday.

Several Democratic senators from two Republican-leaning states also called on Trump to nominate a replacement, including newly appointed Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the first Democrat to serve in his state since 1964.

But Democrats, as well as most Democrats from Trump states, have not formally taken up the nomination process for more than a year, after Trump unexpectedly took office and nominated his top White House strategist, Steve Bannon, to fill a vacancy that could have occurred without a Senate confirmation. In that regard, the vacancy created by Ginsburg’s death still could play a role in the justices’ deliberations on the travel ban.

“My heart goes out to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her family during this time of great loss,” Schumer said in a statement. “As Justice Ginsburg’s health declined, I reached out to Justice Kavanaugh to let him know I would be praying for him. Now, my prayers are with the Justice Ginsburg family as they mourn the passing of their dear friend.”

A Senate GOP spokesman said McConnell planned to schedule a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination as soon as he is confirmed by the Senate.

“If Mr. Trump nominates Judge Kavanaugh and wins confirmation from the Senate, and a majority of senators vote to confirm him, he’ll be confirmed. If he doesn’t, he’ll simply get slapped around in the press like a dog. That’s never happened before,” the spokesman said.

At an August ceremony honoring Ginsburg’s 95th birthday, Bush, a Republican, said that Ginsburg had been the “dedication, energy and undying commitment of justice’s most beautiful justice, just as the children of Justice and Justice Kennedy are the courageous example of courage on the nation’s streets.”

In a statement issued Tuesday, the leading outside conservative group that has spoken out against Trump’s order stopped short of calling for the Republicans to block the nomination or the names of a potential replacement. The statement urged Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, both Trump’s previous nominees to the court, to be nominated. The group also praised Ginsburg’s “example of independence and fairness on the nation’s highest court.”

Associated Press writers Matthew Daly and Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.

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