Republican US senator Susan Collins says the Senate should not fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court until after the November 3 presidential election and the winner of that race should pick the nominee.
Collins, who is in a tough re-election battle in Maine, said in a statement that "in fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the president or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the president who is elected on November 3".
Liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday from cancer aged 87 and Collins is the first Republican senator to suggest the nomination for her replacement should be tied to who wins the White House.
Republican President Donald Trump now has a chance to expand the US top court's conservative majority at a time of deep divisions in America.
Republicans control the Senate with a 53-47 majority.
Senator Lisa Murkowsi, an Alaska Republican, told Alaska Public Radio in an interview shortly before the announcement of Ginsburg's death that she would not vote to confirm a nominee before the election.
About seven Republican incumbents and two Democrats face a chance of losing their seats in November's election, according to nonpartisan election trackers.
Australian Associated Press