What we know about a possible Senate vote to replace Justice Ginsburg
(Vox) The question of whether President Donald Trump will get to fill the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat this year — either before the election or even after it, if he should lose — is entirely up to Senate Republicans.
There are 53 Republican senators. Confirmation of a nominee would take 50 Senate votes, plus a tiebreaker vote from Vice President Mike Pence. Democrats are likely to remain united in opposition to any Trump effort to fill the seat, but they can’t stop the GOP by themselves. They’d need to convince at least four Republican senators join them — to agree to let the winner of the next election fill Ginsburg’s seat.
Justice Ginsburg said days before her death that her “most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” according to NPR. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday that President Trump’s nominee to replace Ginsburg “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
There are two main possibilities for when he’d hold such a vote — before the election or in the lame-duck period after it stretching from November to January. Either option would be controversial, but the latter would be particularly so if Biden wins and if Republicans lose their Senate majority; Republicans would effectively be thumbing their noses at the election results.
As it so happens, a few GOP senators are on the record saying they would oppose filling a Supreme Court vacancy this year. (The question has often been posed given McConnell’s refusal to hold a vote to replace Justice Antonin Scalia after he died in 2016, while Barack Obama was still president.) But, of course, those assurances were given when the question was hypothetical, and it’s far from clear whether these senators will stick to them in the face of what’s certain to be intense pressure from the right.
Susan Collins: No Supreme Court vote before Election Day
(Vox) Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has become the first Republican senator to call for the Senate to delay voting on a new Supreme Court justice until after voters choose the winner of the 2020 election.
“In fairness to the American people ... the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd,” Collins said in a statement Saturday.
However, the senator also said if Trump chooses a nominee, the Senate Judiciary Committee should begin “the process of reviewing his nominee’s credentials.”
Collins made the statements following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday. Earlier in September, the senator said she would not be in favor of replacing a justice in the weeks before an election, saying, “I think that’s too close, I really do.”
Saturday, Collins gave a similar rationale for her approach to growing calls from her Republican colleagues for a quick floor vote on a Trump nominee: “Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election.”