Mon | Oct 26, 2020

Trump to Senate: Vote ‘without delay’ on his high court pick

Published:Saturday | September 19, 2020 | 11:34 AM
President Donald Trump speaks about the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after a campaign rally at Bemidji Regional Airport, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Bemidji, Minn. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Saturday urged the Republican-run Senate to consider “without delay” his upcoming nomination to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just six weeks before the election.

The White House was making preparations to select a nominee for the seat held by Ginsburg, who spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court’s liberal wing.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., vowed on Friday night, hours after Ginsburg’s death, to call a vote for whomever Trump nominated. Democrats said Republicans should follow the precedent they set in 2016 by not considering a Supreme Court choice in the run-up to an election.

Trump made his view clear in a tweet Saturday: “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!”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said any vote should come after the Nov. 3 election. “Voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice to consider,” Biden said.

McConnell, who sets the calendar in the Senate and has made judicial appointments his priority, declared unequivocally in a statement that Trump’s nominee would receive a confirmation vote in the chamber. In 2016, McConnell refused to consider President Barack Obama’s choice for the high court months ahead of the election, eventually preventing a vote.

As the nation learned of Ginsburg’s death, Trump was unaware, speaking for more than an hour and a half at a Minnesota rally without mentioning it. He huddled with aides after stepping off stage but acted surprised when he spoke with reporters moments later, saying he did not know she had died.

The president told reporters that Ginsburg was “an amazing woman who led an amazing life.” Aides had worried how the Minnesota crowd would react if Trump mentioned her death from the stage, according to a White House official not authorized to publicly discuss private deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Trump said last month that he would “absolutely” try to fill a vacancy if one came up before the end of his first term. “I would move quickly, ” Trump said in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “Why not? I mean, they would. The Democrats would if they were in this position.”

Trump last week added 20 names to his list of candidates he’s pledged to choose from if he has future vacancies to fill. He contrasted his list with unnamed “radical justices” he claimed Biden would nominate who would “fundamentally transform America without a single vote of Congress.”

The next pick could shape important decisions, including on abortion rights, as well as any legal challenges that may stem from the 2020 election. The 2018 hearings on Trump’s second pick, now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh, turned into a bitter partisan battle after sexual assault allegations were made.

Biden has promised to nominate a Black woman to the high court if given the chance. He has said he’s also working on a list of potential nominees, but the campaign has given no indication that it will release names before the election.

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