First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

We write for you

It’s a public service and we refuse to erect a paywall and force you to pay for truth. Instead, we ask (nicely and often) that those of you who can afford to, become a Maverick Insider and help with whatever you can. In order for truth not to become a thing of the past, we need to keep going.

Currently, 18,000 (or less than 0.3%) of our brave and generous readers are members; which says a lot about their characters and commitment to our country. These people are paying for a free service in order to keep it free for everyone.

They are the true South AfriCANs.(Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves.)

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Trump to name Supreme Court pick by Saturday as Democra...

Newsdeck

Newsdeck

Trump to name Supreme Court pick by Saturday as Democratic hopes of blocking nomination dim

US President Donald J. Trump speaks with reporters during the Announcement of the Guidance on Constitutional Prayer in Public Schools in the the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 16 January 2020. (Photo: EPA-EFE/Yuri Gripas / POOL)
By Reuters
22 Sep 2020 1

WASHINGTON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump raced on Monday to cement a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court before the Nov. 3 election, telling reporters he planned by Saturday to reveal his pick to succeed liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

By Andrew Chung and Steve Holland

Democrats’ hope of keeping the seat empty faded when two Republican senators, Chuck Grassley and Cory Gardner, signaled their support for moving forward quickly.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said he was zeroing in on one or two candidates among five who are under consideration. He called on the Senate, controlled by his fellow Republicans, to vote on confirmation before the election in which he is seeking a second term.

“I’d much rather have a vote before the election,” he said. “We have plenty of time to do it.”

Two federal appeals court judges appointed by Trump are clear front-runners: Amy Coney Barrett of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Barbara Lagoa of the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Trump met with Barrett at the White House on Monday, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Ginsburg died on Friday of complications from pancreatic cancer at age 87.

Trump’s announcement would come before Ginsburg is due to be buried privately at Arlington National Cemetery next week.

Officials have arranged for a public viewing of her body outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday and inside the U.S. Capitol on Friday.

Ginsburg’s death gives Trump and his party an opportunity to establish a 6-3 conservative majority on a court whose decisions influence many spheres of American life including abortion, healthcare, gun rights, voting access, presidential powers and the death penalty.

With Republicans holding a 53-47 majority in the Senate, it would require at least four of them to break ranks to stop the nomination from going through. Two Republican senators – Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski – said over the weekend that the chamber should not move forward with a Trump nominee before the election.

Democrats had hoped to get similar support from Gardner, who faces a tough re-election race in Colorado, and Grassley. But both men said on Monday they would vote to confirm a qualified Trump pick.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who has clashed with Trump and is seen by Democrats as a potential holdout, avoided questions about the Supreme Court seat on Monday.

“Before I have any comment, I’m going to meet with my colleagues, which I’ll be doing tomorrow,” Romney, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, told reporters.

Democrats have accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of hypocrisy for being eager to bring a Trump nominee to a confirmation vote. In 2016, he refused even to consider Democratic President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill a vacancy on the court left by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, saying it would be inappropriate to do so during an election year.

McConnell, who has prioritized confirming Trump’s judicial appointments, said he would usher through a vote this year, although he did not say exactly when.

“The Senate has more than sufficient time to process a nomination. History and precedent make that perfectly clear,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

A new Congress will not be sworn in until Jan. 3. Democrats are hoping to win control of the Senate in the election.

Trump has already named two conservative justices to the high court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

‘GINSBURG’S DYING WISH’

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said any vote should take place next year.

“That was Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish. And it may be the Senate’s only, last hope,” Schumer said.

Trump said without evidence that he did not believe the National Public Radio report that Ginsburg had told her granddaughter she did not want the Senate to consider a successor until next year, when either Trump will begin a second term or Democratic rival Joe Biden, who leads in opinion polls, will take office.

“It was just too convenient,” Trump said.

Speaking of the possible candidates, Trump said: “They’re all outstanding but I have one or two that I have in mind.” He called Barrett “very respected.”

He said he might meet with Lagoa in Miami later this week, adding: “I don’t know her but I hear she’s outstanding.”

Obstacles loom for either candidate in the bitterly divided Senate.

Barrett could face opposition from Collins and Murkowski over concerns that she would roll back abortion rights, said a source familiar with the confirmation process who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Lagoa, a Cuban American from the battleground state of Florida, is not as well known, which could slow down the confirmation process.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, Vice President Mike Pence, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, are leading the selection process, the source said. Outside of White House officials, Leonard Leo, the former executive vice president of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group, is playing a central advisory role.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung and Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley, Susan Cornwell, Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey and Jan Wolfe; Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Will Dunham, Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

All Comments 1

  • There’s something *SERIOUSLY* wrong with a legal system in which not the legislature, but 5 out of 9 lifetime political appointees, make national policy decisions on “abortion, healthcare, gun rights, voting access, presidential powers and the death penalty” – amongst other things. A court precedent can and should shine light on or add clarity to subtle nuances of law that legislators could not foresee, but to have major yes/no decisions made the way they do is just totally wrong. Of course, when you see how laws are passed in that country, with the horse-trading that has to go on to get them passed, it comes as no surprise – but it doesn’t make it any more palatable. If anything, it makes the whole process that much more horrifying.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted