President Donald Trump on Saturday named two conservative women who he has elevated to federal appeals courts as contenders to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy caused by Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, a move that would tip the court further to the right.
Trump, who now has a chance to nominate a third justice to a lifetime appointment on the court named Amy Coney Barrett of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees.
Ginsburg's death on Friday from cancer after 27 years on the court handed Trump, who is seeking re-election on Nov. 3, the opportunity to expand its conservative majority to 6-3 at a time of a gaping political divide in America.
Any nomination would require approval in the Senate, where Trump's Republicans hold a 53-47 majority.
Not all Republican senators supported the move: Maine's Susan Collins on Saturday said Trump should hold off on nominating."In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd," Collins, facing a tough re-election race herself, said on Twitter.
Democrats are still seething over the Republican Senate's refusal to act on Democratic President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, in 2016 after conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died 10 months before that election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said then that the Senate should not act on a court nominee during an election year, a stance he has since reversed.Even if Democrats win the White House and a Senate majority in the November election, Trump and McConnell have time as the full new Congress would not be sworn in until Jan. 3
Senior congressional Democrats raised the prospect of adding additional justices next year to counterbalance Trump's nominees if they win control of the White House and Senate in the November election.
McConnell, who has made confirmation of Trump's federal judicial nominees a top priority, said the chamber would vote on any Trump nominee.
Given that they have few tools to block the eventual nomination from passing, Democrats plan to try to rally public opposition to the move.
DONALD TRUMP: I could see most likely it would be a woman. Yeah, I think I could say that. It would be a woman. I would-- if somebody were to ask me now, I would say that a woman would be in first place. Yes, the choice of a woman, I would say, would certainly be appropriate.
She's an extraordinary person. I've heard incredible things about her. I don't know her. She's Hispanic and highly respected-- Miami. Highly respected.
Well, I totally disagree with her. We have an obligation. We won, and we have an obligation as the winners to pick who we want. That's not the next president. Hopefully, I'll be the next president. But we're here now. Right now, we're here.
Well, I don't know. We're working with all of the Republican senators and working with Mitch McConnell, and we'll be making a decision. I would think before would be very good, but we'll be making a decision. I think the process can go very, very fast. I'll be making my choice soon. And when the choice is made, I'll be sending it over to Mitch in the Senate. And they will do what they have to do.
I think the choice will be next week. Yes, I do. I do. OK?