President Donald Trump is expected to nominate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg replacement in the coming days.
Ginsburg had hoped that the selection of the next Justice was held after November’s election, stating her ‘most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed’
But Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has already pledged a vote on a Trump nominee.
Trump’s attempts to hurry through his own pick, the third Supreme Court Justice he would have nominated, has already been met with backlash from his rival, Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Biden demanded that Trump waits until after the election so the winner can put forward the nomination.
It comes as insiders suggest that some Republican Senators led by Utah’s Mitt Romney will lead a rebellion to scupper Trump’s chances of a rushed process.
President Donald Trump speaks about the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Friday. It is rumored he will nominate her replacement in the coming days
Trump is expected to whittle down his nomination list from the 20 names he announced last week to one nominee that will then go through the Senate vetting process.
Among the current front runners is U.S. Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, 48, a devout Catholic who holds a strong pro-life stance.
Liberals fear her appointment would result in the removal of the Roe v Wade judgement that legalizes abortion nationwide.
Once a nominee is named and vetted by the Senate, lengthy confirmation hearings in the Senate Judiciary normally follow, culminating with a recommendation on whether the nominee should be confirmed and placed onto the court.
The decision on the nomination lies solely with the Senate although the Vice President breaks a tie in the event of a 50/50 split.
Generally the process from nomination to appointment takes about 70 days although some, such as Brett Kavanaugh, take longer and Ginsburg’s appointment only took 50 days.
Even this, however, was longer than the 46 days currently remaining before the election meaning the vetting and review for a Trump nominee would have to take place at breakneck speed.
The long-term direction of the nation’s highest court is at stake as the closely divided court had five justices with conservative bents and four liberals, before Ginsburg’s death.
If Trump were to choose a conservative judge to replace the liberal Ginsburg, as expected, the court’s conservatives would have more heft with a 6-3 majority.
The president repeatedly touts his success in already nominating two conservative Supreme Court Justices as one of the biggest achievements of his term but wishes to extend his influence further.
If he loses in November without having secured a third Justice, Trump could still attempt to push a nomination through the Republican-controlled Senate before Biden’s inauguration in January, although this would likely be met with fury by Democrats.
If there was still a vacancy by January, a victorious Biden could appoint a liberal nominee, leaving the conservative-liberal balance at 5-4.
With other current Justices on the court in their 70s and 80s, without the Trump nominee, a Biden presidency could have further vacancies that could swing the balance of the court completely.
The Senate is currently controlled by 53 Republicans, while Democrats hold 45 seats. Two independents align with Democrats on most votes.
Among the 53 Republicans are some moderates, including Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who may side with Democrats or oppose a vote before the election.
Earlier on Friday shortly before Ginsburg’s death was announced, Senator Murkowski said that if she was presented with a vacancy on the court, she would not vote to confirm a nominee before the election.
‘I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50 some days away from an election,’ she said, according to Alaska Public.
She said she made the decision based on the same reasoning given by Republican senators to halt the confirmation of former President Barack Obama’s final nominee to the Supreme Court ahead of the 2016 election.
This comment could place Murkowski among a group of rebel GOP senators, potentially led by Mitt Romney, that will abstain from voting or vote with Democrats if a nominee is presented.
Romney has previously shown his ability to resist Trump and will likely be targeted by Democrats who will remind him of the 18-month delay caused by Republicans in 2016 when they refused to appoint Obama’s nomination ahead of that election.
Another Utah senator could also play a prominent role over the next few days although for a different reason.
Sen. Mike Lee is among Trump’s shortlist for the Supreme Court role, as is his brother, Thomas Lee, who is on the Utah Supreme Court.
Maine’s Collins is another GOP senator who may oppose a Trump nominee due to pressure from voters in her own state.
She is in a tough race for re-election this year in her home state, which has been trending Democratic.
Ginsburg’s death could have an impact on Collins’ re-election effort and her posture on whether filling the high-court seat should await the outcome of the 2020 presidential race.