President Donald Trump on Saturday said that he will nominate a woman to sit on the US Supreme Court, and will put forward the nomination next week after controversy erupted over the replacement of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died earlier this week.
“I will be putting forth a nominee next week. It will be a woman,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. “I think it should be a woman because I actually like women much more than men.” As Trump spoke, supporters chanted: “Fill that seat.” He praised Ginsburg as a “legal giant … Her landmark rulings, fierce devotion to justice and her courageous battle against cancer inspire all Americans.”
Earlier, he praised two women as possible replacements: conservatives he elevated to federal appeals courts.
Trump named Amy Coney Barrett of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees for a lifetime appointment to the highest US court. It would be his third appointment during his first term.
Trump said it was his constitutional right to appoint a successor for Ginsburg, and he would do so, citing similar moves by presidents dating back to George Washington. “We have plenty of time. You’re talking about January 20,” Trump said, referring to the date of the next inauguration.
Ginsburg’s death on Friday from cancer after 27 years on the court handed Trump, who is seeking re-election on November 3, the opportunity to expand its conservative majority to 6-3 at a time of a gaping political divide in America.
Any nomination would require approval by a simple majority in the Senate, where Trump’s Republicans hold a 53-47 majority.
Not all Republican senators supported the move: Maine’s Susan Collins on Saturday said a nomination should wait. “In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd,” Collins, facing a tough re-election race herself, said in a statement.
Democrats are still seething over the Republican Senate’s refusal in 2016 to act on Democratic President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland to replace conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died 10 months before that election.
At the time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate should not act on a nominee during an election year, but he and other top Republican senators have reversed that stance.
Even if Democrats win the White House and a Senate majority in the November election, Trump and McConnell might be able to push through their choice before the new president and Congress are sworn in on Jan. 20.—AFP