U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday he plans to announce his nominee Saturday for the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, while a key lawmaker said Senate Republicans have enough votes to confirm Trump’s choice before the November 3 presidential election.
Trump said on Twitter he would make the announcement at the White House. He earlier said the choice will be one of five conservative women he is considering, one of whom he met with Monday, appellate court judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Three Conservative Female Judges at Top of Trump’s Supreme Court ListUS leader appointed all three to federal appellate court judgeships and now could elevate one of them to a lifetime appointment to the top US courtFormer Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic challenger in the election six weeks away, has called for the next president — whoever wins the election — to pick the Supreme Court nominee after his inauguration in January to a new White House term.
But Republicans are looking to take advantage of their current 53-47 Senate majority to tilt the court’s ideological balance further to the right — from its current 5-4 conservative edge to 6-3 – by approving Trump’s third conservative nominee to the country’s top court. The president earlier won Senate confirmation of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Supreme Court Pick Upends Unpredictable US ElectionDeath of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg puts political battle over her replacement at center of election, less than two months away Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee would oversee confirmation hearings for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, told Fox News late Monday night that Republicans have enough votes to approve his yet-to-be-named choice.
“The nominee is going to be supported by every Republican in the Judiciary Committee,” Graham said. “We’ve got the votes to confirm the justice on the floor of the Senate before the election and that’s what’s coming.”
Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have announced they will vote against considering Trump’s nomination before the election, a less than 40-day time frame compared to the 70 days or more it typically has taken the Senate to consider past presidents’ Supreme Court nominees.
But no other Republican senator has joined them in looking to delay consideration of a nominee until after the election.
Romney OK with pre-election confirmation
Senator Mitt Romney, a frequent Trump critic, was the latest to voice approval for moving ahead.
“I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the president’s nominee,” Romney said in a statement Tuesday. “If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications.”
The Republican Senate majority, nine months ahead of the 2016 election, blocked consideration of Democratic President Barack Obama’s last Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.
Along with other Republicans, Romney said the fact that the party controls both the White House and Senate makes the current fight over a court nominee different than four years ago.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, leaves the Senate Chamber following a vote, at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 21, 2020.“Historical precedent of election year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party’s nominee but does confirm a nominee of its own,” Romney said.
Romney’s position does not mean Trump’s nominee will definitely have the votes to be confirmed, but it does mean that Graham, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans can push forward on Trump’s choice without delay.
Two other Republican senators thought to possibly oppose a pre-election vote on a court nominee — Cory Gardner of Colorado and Chuck Grassley of Iowa — said Monday they also do not oppose moving forward on filling the court vacancy.
Democrats unable to stop process
Democrats, in the Senate minority, are largely powerless to stop consideration of Trump’s eventual nominee and, at least so far, have tried to shame Republicans, heaping scorn on them for blocking Obama’s nominee in another presidential election year while looking to move swiftly on the prospective Trump selection.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., arrives at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 21, 2020.Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Monday the coming confirmation clash could spell “the end of this supposedly great deliberative body.”
“If a Senate majority over the course of six years steals two Supreme Court seats using completely contradictory rationales, how could we expect to trust the other side again?” he asked. “How can we trust each other if, when push comes to shove, when the stakes are the highest, the other side will double-cross their own standards when it’s politically advantageous?”
Aside from considering the 48-year-old Barrett, a former University of Notre Dame law professor and favorite of conservative activists for the nomination, Trump is looking at three other appellate court judges, including another reported leading choice, Barbara Lagoa, the 52-year-old daughter of Cuban refugees who fled the island after Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution. Also under consideration are appeals court judges Allison Jones Rushing and Joan Larsen, along with deputy White House counsel Kate Todd.