Sept. 19 (UPI) — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he intends to nominate a candidate to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg next week and that he will “most likely” nominate a woman.
“I would say that a woman would be in first place,” Trump said, adding that he has a short list of candidates. “Yes, the choice of a woman I would say would certainly be appropriate.”
He also said he disagreed with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who has said that the Senate should not vote on a nominee before the November election.
“We won. And we have an obligation as the winners to pick who we want,” Trump said.
Earlier Saturday Trump told Republicans not to delay filling the Supreme Court vacancy left by Ginsburg’s death Friday.
Trump announced that Ginsburg must be replaced on the Supreme Court “without delay” in a tweet the day after the 87-year-old’s death from pancreatic cancer.
“@GOP 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!” Trump tweeted.
Trump released a list earlier this month of 20 potential conservative nominees to the bench to galvanize conservative support.
Among those under consideration were Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Josh Hawley, R-Mo.; Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron; former U.S. Solicitors General Paul Clement and Noel Francisco; along with other judges Trump has nominated to the lower courts.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky,. previously blocked President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland after Justice Antonin Scalia died nine months before the 2016 election, citing that it was an election year.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell said at the time. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
But now less than two months before Election Day on Nov. 3, McConnell said he plans to hold a floor vote for Trump’s nominee when he announces one.
In a statement Friday, McConnell said that the nation mourns Ginsburg’s sudden death, and then went onto explain why he thinks that she should be replaced during an election year unlike Scalia.
“In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year,” McConnell wrote.
“By contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary. Once again, we will keep our promise.”
Former President Barack Obama said in a Medium post that it would be unfair to fill the seat before the upcoming election.
“A basic principle of the law — and of everyday fairness — is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment,” Obama wrote.
“That rule of law, the legitimacy of our courts, the fundamental workings of our democracy all depend on that basic principle. As votes are already being cast in this election, Republican Senators are now called to apply that standard. The questions before the court now and in the coming years — with decisions that will determine whether or not our economy is fair, our society is just, women are treated equally, our planet survives, and our democracy endures — are too consequential to future generations for courts to be filled through anything less than an unimpeachable process.”
The vacant seat on the Supreme Court bench creates a once-in-a-generation opportunity, according to conservatives, to change the bench makeup from its split of five conservative justices and four liberal ones to a more conservative 6-3 majority.
A new justice would need a simple majority vote in the Senate for confirmation and the process typically takes two to three months, but McConnell could fast-track the process.
Republicans have 53 votes in the Senate to Democrats’ 47, and Vice President Mike Pence could break a tie. Moderate Republican senators hold crucial votes, including Collins, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Mitt Romney, R-Utah.
“I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee,” Murkowski told Alaska Public Media on Friday, noting that while Obama was president, McConnell said Americans need to pick the next president before the Senate confirmed a new justice. “We are 50 some days away from an election.”