Trump to Name Supreme Court Nominee Saturday

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.  

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Supreme Court Pick Upends Unpredictable US Election

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has placed the political battle over her replacement at the center of the U.S. presidential election that is six weeks away. VOA’s Brian Padden reports that President Donald Trump’s determination to quickly fill the vacancy, and Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s call to let the winner of the presidential contest put forth a nominee, are reminding voters of the hot-button issues from health care to abortion rights that the court may soon decide.

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Trump Considering Five Women for Supreme Court Vacancy 

U.S. President Donald Trump met at the White House on Monday with one of the five women on his list to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, according to sources.  The 87-year-old liberal icon died last Friday after a lengthy battle with cancer. Trump said he would announce his nominee after funeral services for her later this week.  The president mentioned Amy Coney Barrett by name, along with Barbara Lagoa, as he spoke to reporters before boarding his Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn. He did not confirm meeting with Barrett.  U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a law professor at Notre Dame University, poses in an undated photograph obtained from Notre Dame University, Sept. 19, 2020.Later in remarks in Dayton, in the Midwestern state of Ohio, Trump said he would announce his choice probably on Saturday, but possibly the day before.  “It will be a brilliant person,” the president said. “It will be a woman.”  Both Barrett, a 48-year-old Midwestern Catholic, and Lagoa, a 52-year-old Cuban American from Florida, are conservatives whom Trump appointed to federal appellate court judgeships in recent years.  The president told reporters he might meet with Lagoa later this week when he travels to Miami. “I don’t know her, but I hear she’s outstanding,” he added.  Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Lagoa, currently a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, poses in a photograph from 2019 obtained Sept. 19, 2020.Others reported to be on Trump’s short list are Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Joan Larsen, Fourth Circuit Judge Allison Jones Rushing and deputy White House counsel Kate Todd.  Timing of voteThe president, in his Monday afternoon remarks to reporters, called on the Republican- controlled Senate to vote on confirmation before the Nov. 3 election. “I’d much rather have a vote before the election,” Trump said. “We have plenty of time to do it.” That is a reversal from the position he took four years ago when a Supreme Court seat became vacant in the final year of former President Barack Obama’s second term.  “I think the next president should make the pick,” he said in 2016.  Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee hoping to prevent Trump’s reelection, said the victor in the November election should make the court selection after being inaugurated for a new White House term in January.  Trump on Monday said there was “zero chance” that Democrats wouldn’t try to fill a Supreme Court vacancy if they controlled both the presidency and the Senate as Republicans currently do.  FILE – Allison Jones Rushing testifies before a Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing on her nomination to be a United States circuit judge for the Fourth Circuit, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 17, 2018.Ginsburg will lie in repose at the Supreme Court Wednesday and Thursday, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Ginsburg will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol on Friday.  Trump’s Supreme Court pick of another conservative, his third after winning Senate confirmation of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, would tip the current 5-4 conservative edge on the country’s top court to 6-3.  The new choice could affect decisions on legalized abortion in the U.S., immigration, health care, voting rights, gun ownership restrictions, religious liberty and an array of other issues for more than a generation.  ‘Ginsburg’s dying wish’Trump’s anticipated court selection has touched off a rancorous political debate in Washington: should the nomination be considered before the election or after? After would effectively allow the American electorate to have a say by deciding the presidential election, which would allow the winner — either Biden or Trump — to make the choice at the start of a new four-year term.  In 2016, Republicans refused to allow consideration of Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February of that year. They argued that high court vacancies should be left unfilled during an election year so the American people can weigh in on the choice. Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer criticized the Republican Party’s change in position and said no vote should take place until next year.  “That was Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish. And it may be the Senate’s only, last hope,” Schumer said.  FILE – Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen moderates a panel discussion during the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention in Washington, Nov. 17, 2016.Trump is questioning whether Ginsburg actually told her granddaughter just before dying that she hoped her seat would not be filled until after the presidential election.  “It just sounds to me like it would be somebody else. It could be, and it might not be, too. It was just too convenient,” the president said to reporters. 2016 vs. 2020″No wonder Americans have so little faith in government and in this Senate, led by the Republican majority,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defended his positions in both 2016 and 2020, saying the difference is that four years ago, different parties were controlling the Senate and White House, whereas now, the same party controls both. He said historical precedent has been on his side in both cases. “There was clear precedent behind the predictable outcome that came out of 2016. And there is even more overwhelming precedent behind the fact that this Senate will vote on this nomination this year,” McConnell said.  Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said Monday that voters chose Republicans to lead the Senate in the 2018 elections in part because they were committed to supporting Trump’s Supreme Court nominees.  “We should honor that mandate,” he said, speaking from the Senate floor.  Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the Senate, but two Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — said over the weekend they would oppose voting on Trump’s eventual nominee before the election.  Trump criticized both lawmakers, claiming they were “very badly hurt” politically by their statements.  If two more Republicans say no to a preelection vote, consideration of the nominee would be scuttled until at least the post-election, lame duck session of Congress. If one more Republican objects, Vice President Mike Pence could break the 50-50 deadlock in the Senate in favor of considering Trump’s nominee.  Ken Bredemeier contributed to this report.
 

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House Democrats File Bill to Fund US Government But Leave Out New Farm Money

The U.S. Congress this week considers legislation to fund the federal government through mid-December, but a dispute over farm aid raised questions about whether lawmakers can avoid a government shutdown amid a pandemic just weeks before the Nov. 3 elections. With government funding lapsing on Sept. 30, House Democrats announced Monday they had filed the stopgap funding legislation, but angered Republicans by leaving out new money that President Donald Trump wanted for farmers. The House will take up the bill Tuesday, a Democratic aide said. The Senate could then act later this week. The new federal fiscal year starts Oct. 1. The bill is designed to give lawmakers more time to work out federal spending for the period through September 2021, including budgets for military operations, health care, national parks, space programs, and airport and border security. FILE – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Aug. 27, 2020.The spending proposal “will avert a catastrophic shutdown in the middle of the ongoing pandemic, wildfires and hurricanes, and keep government open until December 11, when we plan to have bipartisan legislation to fund the government for this fiscal year,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. But the measure’s December end date will require Congress to return to the government funding question again during its post-election lame-duck session, either during or after what could be a bruising fight to confirm Trump’s third Supreme Court nominee after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And the legislation does not include $21.1 billion the White House sought to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation, a program to stabilize farm incomes, because Democrats considered this a “blank check” for “political favors,” said a House Democratic aide who asked not to be named. Trump promised more farm aid during a rally in Wisconsin last week. Republicans were not happy.  FILE – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell meets with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, July 20, 2020.”House Democrats’ rough draft of a government funding bill shamefully leaves out key relief and support that American farmers need. This is no time to add insult to injury and defund help for farmers and rural America,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote on Twitter.  Republicans could seek to amend the document to add in the provision, but both chambers would ultimately need to pass the same version for the measure to go to Trump for signing into law. The bill proposes spending $14 billion to shore up a trust fund that pays for airport improvements and air traffic control operations. It also directs $13.6 billion to maintain current spending levels on highways and mass transit. 
 

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Trump Plans to Promote ‘Patriotic Education’

U.S. President Donald Trump recently announced plans to promote “patriotic education” in U.S. schools, saying he wants to protect children from indoctrination by the “radical left” which, he said, sees America as a “racist nation.” This latest move by Trump reflects the debate on racial justice that’s heating up ahead of the November election, with both candidates holding starkly different views. White House Correspondent Patsy Widakuswara has this story.

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Trump Considering 5 for Supreme Court Vacancy

U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday he has narrowed his list of possible Supreme Court nominees down to five people and expects to announce his choice to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Friday or Saturday.Trump has said he will name a woman and identified three of his choices as Amy Coney Barrett, Barbara Lagoa and Allison Jones Rushing, three conservatives he appointed to federal appellate court judgeships in recent years. He declined to name the other two possible choices in a wide-ranging interview on the court vacancy and other issues on the Fox & Friends show.“The bottom line is we won the election, we have an obligation to do what’s right and act as quickly as possible,” Trump said, dismissing the contention by his Democratic challenger in the November 3 election, former Vice President Joe Biden, that the winner ought to make the court selection after being inaugurated for a new White House term in January.Trump said the Senate should vote to confirm his nominee before the election, now six weeks away. The U.S. leader said there was “zero chance” that Democrats wouldn’t try to fill a Supreme Court vacancy if they controlled both the presidency and the Senate as Republicans do currently.FILE – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gestures to students before she speaks at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, Oct. 3, 2019.Trump said he would make the announcement after services later this week for Ginsburg, the 87-year-old liberal icon who died last Friday after a lengthy battle with cancer.“I think it will be on Friday or Saturday and we want to pay respect, it looks like we will have services on Thursday or Friday, as I understand it, and I think we should, with all due respect for Justice Ginsburg, wait for services to be over,” the president said.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Ginsburg will lie in state in the Capitol on Friday. Trump’s Supreme Court pick of another conservative, his third after already winning Senate confirmation of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, would tip the current 5-4 conservative edge on the country’s top court to 6-3.The new choice, which conservative political figures are applauding with anticipation and liberals fearing, could affect decisions on legalized abortion in the U.S., immigration, health care, voting rights, gun ownership restrictions, religious liberty and an array of other issues for more than a generation.Trump cited the relative youth of his three identified choices — Barrett is 48 and Lagoa is 52 — and said any of them could serve on the court for decades. “You’d like to go young because they’ll be there a long time,” he said.U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a law professor at Notre Dame University, poses in an undated photograph obtained from Notre Dame University, Sept 19, 2020.Referring to Rushing, Trump sarcastically said, “One of the people were talking about is 38 and could be there 50 years. The Democrats would be thrilled about that.”“They are all very smart,” he said of his possible choices. “They are all very qualified. It could be any one of them.” He said their appellate rulings “abide by the Constitution” and that they personally adhere to “very high moral values.”Trump’s anticipated court selection has already touched off a rancorous political debate in Washington over whether the nomination should be considered before the election rather than effectively let the American electorate have a say by deciding the presidential election and then leaving the winner, either Biden or Trump, to make the choice at the start of a new four-year term.Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Lagoa, currently a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, poses in a photograph from 2019 obtained Sept. 19, 2020.In 2016, Republicans refused to allow consideration of former President Barack Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February of that year. They argued that high court vacancies should be left unfilled during an election year so the American people can weigh in on the choice.Then-candidate Donald Trump also said the nomination should wait until a new president was sworn in.“I think the next president should make the pick, and I think they shouldn’t go forward, and I believe I’m pretty much in line with what the Republicans are saying,” he told CNN in March of 2016.Trump said Monday that the difference from then is that Obama, a Democrat, did not have a Democratic-controlled Senate to consider his choice of Garland.“If you have the Senate, you can do what you want,” Trump said.Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the Senate, but two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, said over the weekend they would oppose voting on Trump’s eventual nominee before the election.Trump criticized both lawmakers, claiming they were “very badly hurt” politically by their statements.If two more Republicans say no to a pre-election vote, consideration of the nominee would be scuttled until at least the post-election lame duck session of Congress. If one more Republican objects, Vice President Mike Pence would break the 50-50 deadlock in the Senate in favor of considering Trump’s nominee.If there is a post-election debate on Trump’s court selection, it could come at a time when Biden is president-elect and with Democrats poised to take control of the chamber in early January. Or Trump could have won re-election and Republicans retained control of the Senate. Or, in still another scenario, one party could have won the White House and the other taken control of the Senate. 

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