Trump says an announcement will come as soon as Friday, as Democratic lawmakers have accused Republicans of hypocrisy in pushing for a quick vote

By Sean Neumann
September 21, 2020 02:08 PM
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President Donald Trump
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President Donald Trump has promised to announce a nominee to replace late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Friday or Saturday, while a contentious political battle is brewing in Congress on whether to vote on a replacement before the Nov. 3 election.

Trump, 74, revealed his timeline for this week during an interview Monday morning on Fox & Friends, after calling on GOP lawmakers to rally together to approve his nominee "without delay" in a statement Saturday.

Meanwhile, Democratic politicians are calling out Republicans for taking a hypocritical stance on the issue after having blocked President Barack Obama's own Supreme Court nominee in 2016, the year before he left office. At the time, Republicans argued that Obama was on his way out of the Oval Office and that voters should have a say in choosing the next president before filling the lifelong position on the court.

Here's what to expect in the coming days.

Who Will Trump Nominate?

Amy Coney Barrett
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Nine days prior to Ginsburg's death, Trump added 20 new names to his list of potential Supreme Court nominees.

Included among the potential nominees were U.S. Court of Appeals Judges Barbara Lagoa and Allison Jones Rushing. They joined an already long list of potential conservative nominees — including unlikely candidates like Sens. Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton.

The president has said he'll likely pick a woman. Since that assertion, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett has become a top contender for the nomination.

Barrett, who was a clerk for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, is 48 years old, which would set her up to serve on the Supreme Court for decades to come.

Judge Barbara Lagoa
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Ginsburg served until her death Friday at 87, though many high court justices also retire in their later years — such as Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2018, who Trump replaced with Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Barrett is a social conservative who liberal critics worry could help an already right-leaning bench fulfill some of Trump's main agendas, including eradicating the Affordable Care Act and overturning Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal in the U.S.

“Amy Coney Barrett meets Donald Trump’s two main litmus tests: She has made clear she would invalidate the A.C.A. and take health care away from millions of people and undermine a woman’s reproductive freedom,” Nan Aron, the president of the progressive judicial advocacy group Alliance for Justice, told The New York Times.

What Comes Next?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump
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Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has already vowed that Trump's nominee "will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate" and the president says he'll announce his pick by the end of the week.

After that, the Senate will hold congressional hearings where lawmakers from both sides of the aisle can interview Trump's nominee. Then, the Senate will vote to confirm or reject the judge.

The president has already seated two conservative justices on the Supreme Court bench, choosing Neil Gorsuch to replace Scalia in early 2017 and Kavanaugh to replace Kennedy a year later.

Kavanaugh's congressional hearings were the most acrimonious in recent memory, as Democratic lawmakers pressed the now-sitting justice about sexual assault allegations. (Kavanaugh denied the allegations and was approved by a 51-49 vote.)

In both scenarios, it took senators about two months to vet and vote on Gorsuch and Kavanaugh's appointments — both of which were approved.

Senators can still vote on Trump's nominee after the election regardless of its outcome, though that scenario would lead to further hostility between the two political parties. Trump's nomination would stand until January 20, when either he or Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's next term would begin.

With Ginsburg dying 46 days from an already contentious presidential election, a bitter political fight has begun over the late justice's replacement.

Democrats Accuse Republicans of Hypocrisy, Citing 2016

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on September 20, 2020
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The Republican push to fulfill Ginsburg's seat is being assailed by Democratic politicians as hypocritical, given the GOP's blocking of Judge Merrick Garland, Obama's nominee, after Scalia's death in 2016.

A vote never happened that year, while one appears likely this time around with Republicans in control of the Senate.

GOP lawmakers are pushing to expedite the process, as the Associated Press reports there are 38 Senate seats up for grabs in the November election. (Republicans are defending 25 seats.)

Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, argued Friday after Ginsburg's death that voters should have a say in which president nominates her successor. That's an identical stance that Republicans took in 2016 after Scalia's death.

This time around, GOP lawmakers vowed to quickly fill the liberal justice's vacant seat with a conservative replacement.

Republicans hold a 53-47 seat majority and have a tie-breaking vote in Vice President Mike Pence, if it comes down to that.

What Are Lawmakers Saying?

Sen. Lindsey Graham
Senator Lindsey Graham/Youtube

At least two Republican senators—Sen. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, and Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine—have signaled they won't vote in favor of filling Ginsburg's seat under Trump, citing the proximity to the November presidential election.

But at least four GOP senators would need to cross the aisle to block a vote on whomever Trump nominates, as Pence can cast a vote to break a 50-50 tie.

RELATED VIDEO: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice and Liberal Icon, Dies at 87

Trump told the Republican-led Senate that its their "obligation" to fill the seat quickly, which would lean the court even more conservative, with a 6-3 voting power.

Highlighting the GOP's shifting stance on the issue, Sen. Lindsey Graham said in 2016 to "use my words against me" when he joined Republicans in blocking a vote on Garland's nomination. Now, with the tables turned in 2020, the Republican senator recently said "the rules have changed."