by AFP / pic by AFP
WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump on Saturday said he would nominate a woman to succeed late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The president’s desire to “to move quickly” on the process, despite Democrats’ vehement opposition, is likely to dominate the campaigns — alongside other hot-button issues such as the coronavirus and America’s ongoing racial reckoning — ahead of the Nov 3 election.
“I think it’s going to move quickly actually,” Trump told reporters outside the White House on Saturday, adding that he thought his choice would be made “next week”.
Addressing a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina later that day, he took an impromptu poll from the crowd, asking them to cheer for either a woman or a man to be his pick. The crowd cheered considerably louder for the former.
“That’s a very accurate poll because that’s the way I feel. It will be a woman. A very talented, very brilliant woman, who I haven’t chosen yet — but we have numerous women on the list.”
The 87-year-old Ginsburg, immensely popular among Democrats, died last Friday after a long battle with cancer. Her death, just
weeks before the presidential election, offers Republicans a chance to lock in a conservative majority for decades to come, on a court where justices are appointed for life.
The stakes are high as the decision could affect such weighty issues as abortion, healthcare, gun control and gay rights.
They are pushed even higher in a bitter election year when the justices can play a decisive role in legal wrangling over a contested result — such as when they ruled in George W Bush’s favour to end the 2000 election debacle.
Trump has already named two justices during his term as president, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, giving conservatives a 5-4 majority before Ginsburg’s death, though that does not guarantee rulings in Trump’s favour — there have been several recent examples of conservatives siding with their progressive colleagues.
Trump, who is lagging in the polls behind Democratic opponent Joe Biden, has another powerful incentive to move ahead: Providing a jolt of enthusiasm among his anti-abortion and evangelical supporters.
But, with 45 days to go before the election and early voting already begun in some states, galvanised Democrats are pushing back furiously.
Biden said last Friday that “the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider”.
While Democrats’ options seem limited, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer told party members on Saturday that if Republicans press ahead, then “nothing is off the table”, according to media reports.
Republican Senator Susan Collins became the first to break ranks when she announced on Saturday she would not support a vote on any Trump nominee before the election.
The Maine lawmaker is among a handful of moderate Republican senators — including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — who have already expressed doubts about a rushed vote.
One prominent Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will oversee the confirmation hearings, is none other than Senator Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate. — AFP