Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said she doesn't plan on retiring before the presidential election in 2020 — but Republicans appear to have other ideas.
Donald Trump’s White House and close allies have begun preparing for her replacement, with senior Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham saying he will be “hell-bent” on replacing the notorious liberal justice with a conservative upon her departure — a move that could radically shift the balance of the court for decades.
Despite the Supreme Court indicating the justice was recovering well after having two malignant nodules removed from her lung, the South Carolina Republican said on Fox News Sunday he would seek to fill the next open seat on the nation’s highest court with a conservative judge like the two others Donald Trump has selected during his presidency, including Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
“I hope Justice Ginsburg serves for a long time, but if there’s an opening on this court, I’m going to be hell-bent to put a conservative to replace whoever steps down for whatever reason,” Mr Graham told host Chris Wallace.
“My Democrat colleagues felt, when they were in charge, we should confirm judges by a majority vote,” he continued. “They changed the rules to accommodate President Obama, they tried to stack the court, they never thought [Hillary Clinton] would lose, so what you’re going to have is Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer’s desire to stack the court on their Democratic watches come back to haunt them.”
The senator went on to note that he would “urge the president to nominate a qualified conservative” if Ms Ginsburg were to step down from her role on the court during his presidency.
The comments arrived shortly after reports indicated Mr Trump’s White House had already begun the process of laying the groundwork for vetting and selecting a conservative justice to fill the next open seat on the Supreme Court.
A source told Politico the administration was “taking the temperature on possible short-list candidates, reaching out to key stakeholders, and just making sure that people are informed on the process” last week, even after the Supreme Court released a memo indicating the justice was in good health after her December surgery.
If and when Mr Trump nominates a new conservative judge to the court, Mr Graham predicted they would “get through” the Senate, adding, “I expect it to be along party lines.”
“This is what happens when you change the rules,” he added. “This has come back to bite them, I predicted it would, and we’ll see.”