Based on unnamed sources, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman at The New York Times report that Donald Trump could move as quickly as next week to name his nominee to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Trump made clear with a Saturday morning tweet that he wants to move fast. “We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!” He didn’t give any specific timing for “without delay.” Before the election? He surely wants this in hopes that, if nothing else, the death of Ginsburg and his choice to undo much of her decades-long efforts to bring justice to marginalized people will shore up his support among voters who have drifted away or are thinking of doing so because of the pandemic, the pandemic recession, and other issues over which he has made them unhappy.
President Trump said Saturday that he plans to announce his nomination next week. “It will be a woman — a very talented, very brilliant woman,” Trump said at an evening campaign rally in North Carolina. “We haven’t chosen yet, but we have numerous women on the list.”
It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Trump would push ahead with the gamble of a Senate showdown before the election that would cement his legacy or wait to confirm a choice in a lame-duck session that would follow the election. Some Republican strategists said it would make more sense for the president to name a choice right away and proceed with hearings but wait for a Senate vote until after Nov. 3 to give Republicans who have soured on Mr. Trump because of the coronavirus pandemic or other reasons an incentive to turn out to vote.
Not quite a handful of Republican senators have made statements indicating they would not vote on a nominee before the election. But with the possible exception of Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, their statements are weaselly enough to leave them some wiggle room. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a letter Friday urging Republican senators to “keep your powder dry” and not “prematurely lock yourselves into a position you may later regret.”
Four Republicans refusing to vote on a nominee before the election is at least a possibility, and that would mean no confirmation until after the ballots are counted. But if the confirmation vote came after a Trump defeat in the election, it’s certain the vast majority of Republicans would vote for his nominee regardless. Maybe two can be counted on to say no, but getting more on board will be tough since Republicans don’t want to lose the chance to trample on much of what Ginsburg had stood for on the court and pressure on reluctant senators will be immense.