Ginsburg to lie in repose as US Republicans eye quick replacement

WASHINGTON • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose death has opened a crucial Supreme Court seat that US Republican President Donald Trump has promised to quickly and controversially fill against the wishes of Democrats, will lie in repose beginning yesterday at the US high court.

Trump will announce his pick to replace Ginsburg on Saturday, with Senate Republicans promising a swift vote on the nominee.

Democratic opponents, led by presidential candidate Joe Biden, however, are demanding that the process wait until after the Nov 3 election, when it will be known whether Trump is getting a second term.

Republicans are ignoring this, giving Trump, who has already replaced two other justices, a chance to tilt the nation’s highest court to the right for decades to come, whether he beats Biden or not.

Speaking on Tuesday at a campaign rally in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, Trump said he would reveal his nominee at 5pm (2100 GMT) on Saturday at the White House.

“We’re going to pick a great woman,” he said to chants of “Fill that seat!” from the crowd. “We have great support from the Republican Party.”

Although two Republican senators said they believed the upper chamber of Congress should not vote at all before the election, the party’s 53-47 majority is still just big enough to go ahead.

One of the other key potential Republican holdouts, frequent Trump critic Mitt Romney, said on Tuesday he would move ahead with the process.

“If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications,” Romney said.

Trump welcomed what he called a “very positive statement” by Romney, who was the only Republican senator to vote for impeaching the president. “Thank you Mitt,” he said.

Democrats argue that any Senate vote should be delayed until after the election has made clear who will lead the country from 2021.

They cite the example of 2016 when Democratic President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace justice Antonin Scalia months before the election did not even get a hearing in the Republican-controlled Senate. Adding to tensions, there is fear that leaving Ginsburg’s seat unfilled — reducing the court to eight justices — raises the possibility of a 4-4 tie in the event of rulings related to election disputes. — AFP