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Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 'Cooler Heads Will Prevail' on Merrick Garland Vote

Merrick Garland was expected to return to Capitol Hill on Thursday as part of a continued effort to get a confirmation vote before year's end.
US Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland reaches out to shake hands as he arrives for a meeting with Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) on Capitol Hill March 28, 2016 in Washington, DC.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP - Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is confident "cooler heads will prevail" when it comes to the Senate taking action on President Barack Obama's nominee for the high court.

Ginsburg's comments Wednesday night came amid a renewed push by the Democrats to get Judge Merrick Garland a fair shake despite GOP resistance. The veteran appellate court judge was expected to return to Capitol Hill on Thursday to meet with Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as part of a continued effort to get a confirmation vote before year's end.

Vice President Joe Biden also convened congressional Democrats at a news conference later Thursday to pressure Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, to act on a hearing.

All but two do not support taking up Garland's nomination, arguing that Obama's successor should put forth his or her own Supreme Court candidate.

But Ginsburg told a group of students at Georgetown University Law Center that lawmakers should appreciate that a president can appoint justices anytime during his term.

Related: Who Is Merrick Garland? Meet President Obama's Nominee

"I do think cooler heads will prevail, I hope sooner rather than later," Ginsburg said, according to the Associated Press. "The president is elected for four years, not three years, so the power he has in year three continues into year four. And maybe our members of the Senate will wake up and appreciate that that's how it should be."

The 83-year-old justice was responding to a student's question about Garland's stalled nomination and whether there is any "valid constitutional argument" that would prevent Obama from filling the seat. As of Thursday, the federal appeals court judge's nomination has been pending 176 days — longer than any Supreme Court nominee in history.

Obama selected Garland to replace late Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative stalwart of the court who died at age 79 in February.

Ginsburg acknowledged there is little anyone can do to force the Senate's hand.

"If the Senate doesn't act, and the Senate is not acting, what can be done about it?" she said. "Even if you could conceive of a testing lawsuit, what would the response be? 'Well, you want us to vote, so we'll vote no.'"

The eight-member Supreme Court has been evenly split in several high-profile cases this year because of four liberal and four conservative justices.

Ginsburg did not comment on the ongoing presidential campaign or refer to the controversial remarks she made earlier this summer about GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Trump has already identified some of his own potential Supreme Court nominees, while Democratic rival Hillary Clinton has not said whether she would renominate Garland if she wins the White House.