The White House was moving quickly to select a nominee, likely before the first presidential debate 10 days away, for the seat held by Ginsburg, who spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court's liberal wing.
The president could announce his choice this coming week and almost certainly before his first debate with Biden on September 29, according to the officials. (Photo source: AP)
President Donald Trump on Saturday urged the Republican-run Senate to consider ‘without delay’ his upcoming nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just six weeks before the election.
The White House was moving quickly to select a nominee, likely before the first presidential debate 10 days away, for the seat held by Ginsburg, who spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court’s liberal wing.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. vowed to call a vote for Trump’s upcoming nominee, but Democrats countered that Republicans should follow the precedent that GOP legislators set in 2016 by refusing to consider a Supreme Court choice in the run-up to an election.
And one Republican senator already broke ranks. Maine’s Susan Collins, who is in a tough reelection battle, said Saturday that she believed replacing Ginsburg should be the decision of the president who is elected November 3. Three more defections from the GOP ranks would be needed to stop Trump’s nominee from joining the court.
The impending clash over the vacant seat when to fill it and with whom scrambles the stretch run of a presidential race for a nation already reeling from the pandemic that has killed nearly 200,000 people, left millions unemployed and heightened partisan tensions and anger. Trump said Saturday that a pick would probably come in in the next week and would ”most likely” be a woman.
The president, who tweeted earlier that the nomination should be taken up ”without delay,” rejected Collins’ view as he departed for a rally in North Carolina where he could offer a first look as to how he would work the vacancy into his campaign.
”We won and we have an obligation as the winners to pick who we want. That’s not the next president,” he told reporters as he left the White House. ”Hopefully I’ll be the next president. But, we’re here now, right now, we’re here, and we have an obligation to the voters, all of the people, the millions of people that put us here in the form of a victory, we have an obligation to them, to all of those voters.”
McConnell pledged to Trump in a phone call Friday night to bring the choice to a vote though has not said if it would be before the election.Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said any selection should come after November 3. “Voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice to consider,” he said.
The president just last week added 20 more names to his roster of potential court nominees, and aides in recent days have focused on a short list heavy on female candidates, according to four White House aides and officials close to the process. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to publicly discuss private conversations.
The president could announce his choice this coming week and almost certainly before his first debate with Biden on September 29, according to the officials. Those under close consideration for the high court include three women who are federal appeals court judges: Amy Coney Barrett, beloved among conservatives and an early favourite; Barbara Lagoa, who is Hispanic and comes from the battleground state of Florida; and Allison Jones Rushing, who clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas and for Neil Gorsuch, when the current Trump-appointed justice was an appeals court judge.
Beyond the idea of replacing Ginsburg with a woman, aides view the selection of a female nominee on the eve of the presidential election as a possible counterweight of sorts to Biden’s choice of California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. Harris would be the nation’s first female vice president.
At least one man, appeals court Judge Amul Thapar, is also under consideration. A McConnell ally from Kentucky, he has been screened by Trump’s team for past openings and he would be the first Asian-American on the high court. McConnell, who sets the calendar in the Senate and has made judicial appointments his priority, declared unequivocally in a statement that Trump’s nominee would receive a confirmation vote.
In 2016, McConnell refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee months before the election, eventually preventing a vote on Judge Merrick Garland.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York convened a conference call with Democratic senators at midday Saturday, according to a person on the private call who was not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke in condition of anonymity.
He told senators the number one goal must be to communicate the stakes of the confirmation vote. Schumer also warned that if Republicans push through the nominee, ?nothing is off the table? for Senate rules changes to come, the person said.
The death of Ginsburg, a champion of women’s rights and a pop culture icon, led to a wave of mourning, including an informal memorial at the Supreme Court and a protest outside McConnell’s house.