US President Donald Trump has announced he will nominate a replacement to Ruth Bader Ginsburg by the end of the week and called on the Republican members of the Senate to support the name given by him for the Supreme court judge before November’s election. The plan has opened a new battleground for Republicans and Democrats before the Nov 3, 2020 election. The position for the Supreme court justice went vacant after the death of liberal stalwart and feminist judge Ginsburg who passed away on Friday aged 87. Trump has vowed to fill the seat with a conservative appointee.
The Republican appears to have garnered enough backing to secure the approval for Supreme Court choice. If the thing go in Trump’s favor, the president will be able to cement a right leaning majority on the court for decades which could be detrimental to the ideological balance practiced by 9-member court in their crucial verdicts and rulings on the key issues in US law.
What is Next?
On Monday, the president hinted on coming up with a new member on Friday or Saturday following the conclusion of the memorial services for Ginsburg. “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 while talking to Fox News. The president on Monday held a private meeting at the WH with Amy Coney Barrett, an appeals court judge in Chicago. Barret also has the support of anti-abortion conservatives.
Once the president finalizes a nominee, it is the Senate’s job to conduct a confirmation vote. The Judiciary Committee reviews the pick first and vote to send the nominee to the floor for a full vote. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnel has confirmed he will conduct a vote before the election in November. Democrats have accused McConnel and his compatriots in the house of hypocritic conduct. After the death of conservative justice Anthony Scalia in 2016, McConnel and his fellow Republicans boycotted for a vote to confirm a nominee put forward by then-Democratic President Barak Obama on the fears that he will opt a justice with Democratic-lineage.
Obama named Merrick Garland months before the elections in February of 2016 but McConnel opposed the idea and maintained the moral high ground that Supreme Court justices should not be installed in the election year. The Republican majority leader in 2017 also changed the Senate rules to simple majority (51 votes) for the confirmation of nominees. Fast forward to Sep 2020, with a Republican President in WH, the Senate leader in the same breadth endorses the decision as both WH and Senate are run and dominated by GOP members.
Can Republicans do it?
Trump’s plan to install a Judge on the conservative-bend got a boost when on Monday Corey Gardner and Charles Grassley representing Colorado and Iowa respectively in the Senate announced their backing for a new nominee before elections. Republican currently maintain a slim 53-47 majority in the house.
Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary committee, on Monday, said he would be “leading the charge to make sure that President Trump’s nominee has a hearing, [and] goes to the floor of the United States Senate for a vote”.
Mitt Romney of Utah has yet to decide while Lisa Murkowski from Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine have agreed with a delay in vote.
Reaction from Democrats
Clearly unhappy by the Trump’s plan, House speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled she might influence what happens next with the confirmation. Talking to NY Times, Pelosi said, she had “arrows in her quiver, in the House quiver” but didn’t explain.
Trump’s Democratic challenger Joe Biden said the President had “made clear this is about power, pure and simple”.
The United States Constitution allows Americans the chance to be heard – and their voice should be heard… they should make it clear, they will not stand for this abuse of power,” the former VP added.
“I appeal to those Senate Republicans – please follow your conscience, let the people speak, cool the flames that have been engulfing our country.”
Addressing a vigil for the late justice, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren who earlier withdrew from the Presidential race to endorse Biden drew cheers from the crowd for blasting Republican over the nomination.
“Mitch McConnel and his henchmen believe that they can ram through a Supreme Court Justice only 45 days from Election Day,” she said. “What Mitch McConnel does not understand is that this fight has just begun.”
Top Contenders for the Post
Deputy White House Counsel, Kate Comerford Todd, Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals judge, Barbara Lagoa and Amy Coney Barret of Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court are the key contenders for a potential replacement of Ginsburg.