Donald Trump says he expects to nominate Ginsburg replacement next week
President Donald Trump said he expects to nominate a replacement for the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court next week and that he’ll likely select a woman.
“I’ll be making my choice soon,” Trump told reporters as he departed the White House on Saturday for a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. “We’ll have a nominee very soon.”
He said that choosing a woman “would certainly be appropriate” to replace Ginsburg, and complimented two Appeals Court judges said to be on his shortlist, Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa.
Barrett is “very highly respected,” he said. He said Lagoa is an “extraordinary person” and “Hispanic.”
Both are Trump appointments to the circuit courts and are on a list of more than 40 potential Supreme Court picks he issued earlier this month.
Trump said it “would be very good” if the Senate confirmed his choice before the Nov. 3 election and that he expects the process “is going to move very quickly, actually.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement Friday less than two hours after Ginsburg’s death was announced promised Trump’s nominee would get a vote, but he gave no timetable for when that would be.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Saturday he’s had multiple conversations with McConnell about the confirmation.
“We talked about the Supreme Court process and what to expect from the Senate,” Meadows said. “The discussion was more directed at process than individual persons.”
Many of Trump’s allies, conservative activists and Republican aides believe there’s not enough time for a confirmation vote before the Nov. 3 election, people familiar with the matter said.
That raises the specter of a handful of defeated, lame-duck senators voting on Trump’s choice for a lifetime appointment to the court, even if the president also loses re-election.
If that happens, the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, told colleagues in a conference call Saturday, “then nothing is off the table for next year. Nothing is off the table.”
Some Democratic activists are already advocating for Joe Biden, if he’s elected president, to expand the Supreme Court with new justices who would dilute the current conservative majority.
McConnell could call a vote anytime he is certain of having at least 50 senators supporting confirmation. With 53 Republicans in the 100-member Senate, McConnell can afford to lose three senators and still confirm Trump’s pick with Vice President Mike Pence casting a tie-breaking vote.
The question may be whether whether a pre-election vote is not only practical but politically viable.
At least seven incumbent Republican senators face tough re-election contests, and a pending fight over a pivotal Supreme Court seat could energize the party’s voting base, though it also risks motivating Democrats.
Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican facing a difficult re-election contest this year, on Saturday became the first Republican to declare that a new justice should be selected by the winner of the presidential election.
“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 3rd,” she said in a statement.
On Friday, before the announcement of Ginsburg’s death, GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski, who isn’t up for re-election until 2022, told Alaska Public Radio that if there were a vacancy on the court this year she wouldn’t vote to confirm a nominee before the election.
Republican senators will be under tremendous pressure in a tight election year from anti-abortion groups and evangelicals to take what could be their last chance to overturn Roe v. Wade, the ruling that made abortion legal.
North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, one of the most vulnerable GOP incumbents in 2020, tweeted out a statement saying he would vote for Trump’s still-unnamed pick, sight unseen. Senator Martha McSally of Arizona, another endangered Republican on the ballot, also tweeted that the Senate should vote on Trump’s nomination.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee that considers court nominees, tweeted Saturday that he would support Trump “in any effort to move forward regarding the recent vacancy created by the passing of Justice Ginsburg.” Graham also is up for re-election and is facing a surprisingly strong challenge.
Trump has pressed GOP senators to line up behind him.
“We’re now, right now we’re here, and we have an obligation to the voters. It’s a very simple thing,” he said. “That’s now the way I read it.”