x
Breaking News
More () »

Central Texas Local News | kcentv.com

President Trump says he'll make Supreme Court pick by Saturday

If Trump were to announce his nominee on Friday or Saturday that would leave less than 40 days for the Senate to hold a confirmation vote before the election.

President Donald Trump said Monday he expects to announce his pick for the Supreme Court by week’s end, before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is buried, launching a monumental Senate confirmation fight ahead of the November election.

Trump said he is planning to name his pick by Friday or Saturday, ahead of the first presidential election debate. Ginsberg's casket is to be on view mid-week on the iconic steps outside the court and later at the Capitol. She is to be buried next week in a private service at Arlington National Cemetery.

Democrats, led by presidential nominee Joe Biden, are protesting the Republicans' rush to replace Ginsburg, saying voters should speak first, on Election Day, Nov. 3, and the winner of the White House should fill the vacancy.

Trump told “Fox & Friends” he had a list of five finalists, “probably four.” He says his choice will likely be a woman.

As for the swift action, Trump said, “I think that would be good for the Republican Party, and I think it would be good for everybody to get it over with.”

RELATED: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's 'most fervent wish' about filling her Supreme Court seat

The impending clash over the vacant seat — when to fill it and with whom — has scrambled the stretch run of the 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.

Democrats point to the hypocrisy of Republicans in trying to rush through a pick so close to the election after refusing to do so for President Barack Obama in February 2016, long before that year’s election. Biden is appealing to GOP senators to delay the vote until after the election.

Ginsburg, 87, died Friday of metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell is pushing ahead with plans to begin the confirmation process, and the Senate GOP leadership team was to meet Monday behind closed doors on next steps.

Trump allowed that he would accept a vote in the lame duck period after Election Day but made clear his preference would be that it occur by Nov. 3.

RELATED: Biden: Supreme Court vacancy refocuses referendum on Trump's health response

RELATED: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dead at 87

Announcing a nominee on Friday or Saturday would leave less than 40 days for the Senate to hold a confirmation vote before the election. No nominee has won confirmation that quickly since Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court in 1981.

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
** FILE ** In this Oct. 10, 2007 file photo, Associated Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks during 2007 Gruber Justice Prize award ceremonies at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington.

Protesters are mobilizing for a wrenching confirmation fight punctuated by crucial issues before the court — healthcare, abortion access and even the potential outcome of the coming presidential election. Some showed up early Monday morning outside the homes of key GOP senators.

The president confirmed Monday that among the top contenders are Indiana’s Amy Coney Barrett and Florida’s Barbara Lagoa, both appellate court judges he appointed.

Barrett has long been a favorite among conservative while Lagoa has been pushed by some aides who tout her political advantages of being Hispanic and hailing from the key battleground state of Florida.

Trump also indicated that Allison Jones Rushing, a 38-year-old appellate judge from North Carolina, is on his short list. He has promised to nominate a woman for the high court, adding that his preference is for someone younger who could hold her seat for decades.

As the Senate returned to Washington on Monday, attention focused on Republicans Mitt Romney of Utah and Chuck Grassley of Iowa for clues to whether Trump and McConnell will be able to confirm Ginsburg’s replacement anytime soon.

Four Republicans could halt a quick confirmation and the president criticized Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska for opposing a vote before elections. He warned they would be “very badly hurt” by voters.

RELATED: Biden: Supreme Court vacancy refocuses referendum on Trump's health response

RELATED: GOP Sen. Murkowski won't back Supreme Court vote before the presidential election

Trump went so far as to disparage reports that Ginsburg had told her granddaughter it was her wish that a replacement justice not be confirmed until the inauguration of a new president. Providing no evidence, Trump suggested that Democratic political foes were behind the report, including Rep. Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman who led the chamber's impeachment probe.

Schiff said Trump sank to "a new low” with that comment. He denied any involvement in Ginsburg's dying wish but said he would “fight like hell to make it come true.”

A day earlier, Biden appealed to Republicans to join Murkowski and Collins in opposing a confirmation vote before the Nov. 3 election. It takes four GOP senators breaking ranks to keep Trump’s nominee off the court.

“Uphold your constitutional duty, your conscience,” said Biden, speaking in Philadelphia on Sunday. “Let the people speak. Cool the flames that have engulfed our country.”

Jamming the nomination through, Biden said, would amount to an “abuse of power.”

The sudden vacancy is reshaping the presidential race, which to this point has been largely a referendum how Trump had managed the COVID-19 pandemic.

It seems certain to electrify both sides: Democrats were breaking fundraising records while a packed Trump crowd in North Carolina Saturday loudly chanted “Fill that seat.” But it remains unclear if the high bench vacancy — which could impact everything from abortion rights to legal challenges to the 2020 election — would persuade disenchanted Republicans to return to Trump or fire up women or suburban voters to break for Biden.

Republicans hold a 53-47 edge in the Senate. If there were a 50-50 tie, it could be broken by Vice President Mike Pence.

There is another potential wrinkle: Because Arizona’s Senate race is a special election, that seat could be filled as early as Nov. 30. If Democrat Mark Kelly wins and is seated, that would narrow the window for McConnell.

Most Republicans concurred on the need for speed and one named a practical reason: The nine-member court, argued Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, must be full if called upon to decide the outcome of a disputed presidential election.

___

Jaffe reported from Philadelphia. Lemire reported from New York. Additional reporting by Laurie Kellman, Mark Sherman and Zeke Miller in Washington.