Donald Trump was booed and heckled as he paid tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose death sparked a political argument.
The president and his wife Melania, both masked, stood silently behind the coffin of the late Supreme Court justice in Washington DC as his body rested at the country’s highest court.
On Friday, she will be moved to lie in state on the U.S. Capitol – the first woman to receive such an honor, before being buried next week in a private service at Arlington National Cemetery.
Mr. Trump sparked controversy by planning to replace her in court ahead of the November presidential election.
Moments after his arrival at court, hoots could be heard from some in the crowd who then briefly chanted: “Vote it”.
He is expected to announce his candidate on Saturday to occupy the seat of the champion of justice and liberal women’s rights.
The 87-year-old had served on the Supreme Court since 1993 until his death on Friday due to complications from pancreatic cancer.
Her last wish was not to be replaced until a new president was installed.
Joe Biden, Democratic presidential candidate, accused Mr. Trump of an “abuse of power” on her plans to replace her before the November 3 ballot.
Mr Biden urged Senate Republicans to postpone any vote on his replacement until after the election.
Democrats say voters should have a say on election day and the winner of the White House battle should take the job.
The procedure for appointing a Supreme Court judge allows the president to nominate a candidate and then requires the Senate to confirm it.
This would give Mr. Trump the opportunity to widen the Court’s conservative majority to 6-3, from 5-4.
It was previously made up of an equal balance of four Liberal judges and four Conservatives, with Anthony Kennedy seen as a more neutral member of the court who would frequently become the swing vote in 5-4 decisions.
Mr. Trump replaced him with Conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh when he retired in 2018.
Democrats pointed to the Republican Senate’s refusal in 2016 to act on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court candidate.
Tory Antonin Scalia had died 10 months before that year’s election, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell then said the Senate should not act on a candidate during an election year.
But McConnell has reversed his position this time around and is moving forward with plans to begin the confirmation process, promising to vote on Mr. Trump’s nominee this year.
It would take four Republicans to break ranks to keep Mr. Trump’s candidate off the field.
The president has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the November election and said he believes the Supreme Court might eventually decide the outcome.
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Announcing a candidate on Saturday would leave less than 40 days for the Senate to hold a confirmation vote before the election.
No candidate has obtained confirmation that Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court in 1981.