Trump to nominate woman to succeed RBG on Supreme Court within one week

Democrats insist decision should wait until after presidential election vote

Emily Goddard
Sunday 20 September 2020 10:33
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Trump supporters chant 'fill that seat' in North Carolina

Donald Trump has said he will nominate a woman in the coming week to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, pushing the Republican-controlled Senate to consider the pick without delay.

Shortly before her death from metastatic pancreatic cancer on Friday, Ginsburg gave a final statement, saying her “most fervent wish” was that her successor would not be appointed until a new president had been installed following the 2020 election in November, NPR reported.

Mr Trump’s Democratic rival, Joe Biden, also said any selection should come after the vote in six weeks.

But taking to the stage on Saturday night at a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina to chants of “fill that seat”, the president said it was his constitutional right to appoint a successor for Ginsburg, adding: “I will be putting forth a nominee next week. It will be a woman.”

He explained the rationale behind the decision is because he “likes women much more than men”.

Ginsburg’s death after 27 years on the Supreme Court handed Mr Trump the opportunity to expand its conservative majority to six-three at a time of yawning political divide in America.

At stake is a seat held by a justice who was a champion of women’s rights and spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court’s liberal wing.

The president said he did not yet know who he would choose, but under consideration are federal appeals court judges Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa – both are conservatives.

Any nomination would require approval by a simple majority in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 53-47 majority.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who sets the calendar and has made judicial appointments his priority, pledged that Mr Trump’s nominee would receive a confirmation vote.

However, Democrats argue that Mr McConnell should follow the precedent set in 2016 when he refused to consider then-president Barack Obama’s nominee months before the election, eventually preventing a vote on Judge Merrick Garland.

Presidential nominee Mr Biden, who has promised to nominate a black woman to the high court if given the chance, said: “Voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice to consider.”

Republican senator Susan Collins of Maine has also broken ranks and said that replacing Ginsburg should be the decision of the president who is elected on 3 November.

Three more defections from within the GOP would be needed to stop Mr Trump’s nominee from joining the court.

Equally, Mr McConnell’s strategy is risky because it could drive away moderates who prefer to see the Senate stick to norms or are fearful of a right-leaning court stripping away women’s rights, including the decision to choose an abortion.

If Mr Trump was to name a successor for Ginsburg, it would be the third justice he had nominated for a lifetime appointment on the court during a single presidential term.

Additional reporting by agencies

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