The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just over six weeks before the election immediately brought to light the vacancy in the High Court, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell swiftly promising to get the vote for whoever President Donald Trump appoints.
McConnell, in a statement just over an hour after the news of Ginsburg’s death, said unequivocally that Trump’s candidate would receive a vote, even though he had blocked President Barack Obama’s choice for months before the 2016 elections, ultimately preventing a vote.
Trump, in brief remarks to reporters after learning of her death, called Ginsburg an “incredible woman,” adding that “she led an incredible life.” He continued with a campaign speech for about an hour after the nation learned of his death, and later said he didn’t know.
He boasted in the speech that the next presidential term could offer him up to four appointments to the nine-member court, whose members are confirmed for life.
Ginsburg’s death could significantly affect the presidential race, sparking more passions in this deeply divided country as the campaign continues.
Trump took the stage for a rally in Minnesota shortly before the news of Ginsburg’s death. He spoke for over 90 minutes without ever mentioning it, apparently unaware of the development. He spoke to reporters about his passing as he boarded Air Force One to return to Washington.
But he said in his speech that whoever is elected in November will have the capacity to potentially fill several top vacancies, saying: “This will be the most important election in the history of our country and we have to get it right. ”
Democratic candidate Joe Biden, returning to Delaware after his own election campaign in Minnesota, praised Ginsburg upon his arrival.
Ginsburg was “not just a giant in the legal profession, but a beloved personality,” he said. She “represented for all of us”.
A confirmation vote in the Senate is not guaranteed, even with a Republican majority.
Typically, it takes several months to review and hold hearings on a Supreme Court candidate, and time is of the essence before the election.
Key Senators may be reluctant to vote so close to an election. With a slim GOP majority, 53 seats in the 100-member chamber, Trump’s choice could afford to lose just a few.
McConnell did not specify the timing, but pushing for confirmation in the Lame Duck’s post-election session would lead to further complications, including the political entanglement of trying to get him through in the final weeks of the year after that voters decided to control the White House and control the Senate.
Trump has made appointments to the federal judiciary, including two Supreme Court justices, part of his legacy, and said last month that he would “absolutely” try to fill a vacancy in the high court if one appeared before the end of his first term.
“Absolutely, I would,” Trump said in an Aug. 11 interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “I would move quickly. Why not? I mean, they would. Democrats would if they were in that position.
Last week, Trump added 20 names to his slate of candidates he pledged to choose from if he had any future vacancies to fill.
Trump tried to present the list unlike the judges who could be appointed if Biden won in November, warning that Biden would select “radical judges” who “would fundamentally transform America without a single Congressional vote,” even though Biden did never presented his list. potential choices and the Senate must confirm any candidate.
Naming his possible choices, less than two months before the election, aims to repeat the strategy used by Trump in his 2016 campaign, when he released a similar list of potential judges in a bid to win over conservative and evangelical voters who had doubts about his conservative good faith.
The average number of days to confirm justice, according to the Congressional Research Service, is 69 days, which would be after the election.
Biden has promised to appoint a black woman to the high court if given the chance. He said he was also working on a list of potential candidates, but the campaign gave no indication that it would release names before the election.
Democrats believe it would unnecessarily distract Biden from Trump’s handling of the pandemic and the economy, while giving the president and his allies new targets to attack.
Trump, however, insisted that the presidential candidates “owe the American people” a list they would consider because, aside from “matters of war and peace, the appointment of a judge to the Supreme Court is the most important decision a US president can make. . “