It appears the Republican-controlled US Senate can go ahead with its plans to vote on a new Supreme Court justice nominee before the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Multiple news outlets have reported that Sen. Mitch Romney (R-Utah) agreed to support a confirmation hearing. Romney would guarantee the Republicans 51 votes, the majority they would need to bring the vote to the floor. The Republicans hold an overall 53-47 majority in the Senate.
“My decision regarding a Supreme Court nomination is not the result of a subjective test of ‘fairness’ which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder,” Romney told reporters on Tuesday, Sept. 22. “It is based on the immutable fairness of following the law, which in this case is the Constitution and precedent. The historical precedent of election year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party’s nominee but does confirm a nominee of its own.”
A seat on the nine-member court became vacant when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Sept. 18 following a long battle with cancer. She was 87. A memorial service was held at the Supreme Court building on Wednesday, Sept. 23. On Friday, Sept. 25, Ginsburg will become the first woman to lie in state in the US Capitol when her casket is taken to the National Statuary Hall.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell — in a statement an hour after Ginsburg’s death was announced — vowed to hold a confirmation vote before the November election. Typically, the average is 69 days to vet and hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee. The election is in six weeks.
Appointments to the Supreme Court are for a lifetime.
President Donald Trump, locked into a tight re-election battle with Democratic nominee Joe Biden, said he would reveal his nominee on Saturday, Sept. 26, and that the nominee would be a woman. Trump is reportedly considering five candidates; leading candidates reportedly include Amy Coney Barrett, who now serves on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals; and Barbara Lagoa, a former federal prosecutor who was the first Cuban American to serve on the state Supreme Court in Florida and now sits on the 11th Circuit.
Trump has previously appointed two other judges to the bench — Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. A third approved appointee would further strengthen the conservative view of the court.