Following a weekend of demonstrations in Washington, D.C. and nationwide which demanded President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans refrain from trying to ram through confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice ahead of the November election, the president announced Monday he plans to name a nominee by the end of the week even as a poll showed nearly two-thirds of Americans want the winner of the election to decide
Trump said in a phone interview with Fox News' "Fox and Friends" that his list of potential nominees to succeed late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is narrowed down to five names and that he plans to announce his nominee on Friday or Saturday, after Ginsburg's burial.
The plan blatantly goes against the wishes expressed in Ginsburg's last public statement, in which the venerated justice said she wanted the winner of the general election to name her successor. A poll released late Sunday showed that a majority of the public also wants the winner of the election to name a new nominee.
"Mitch McConnell and Republicans think this fight is over. But let me be clear: This fight has only just begun—and we’re ready to give it all we've got."
—Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
After surveying 1,006 American adults, including 374 Republicans, on Saturday and Sunday, Reuters/Ipsos reported that 62% of respondents oppose the president's and GOP-led Senate's plan to nominate and push through the confirmation of a new justice in the coming weeks, even as voters in states including Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia have already begun casting ballots.
Eight in 10 Democratic voters want the election winner to nominate a new judge, and five in 10 Republicans agree, according to the poll.
In addition to saying he is close to selecting a nominee, the president said Monday that he wants the Republican-led Senate to confirm the new judge before the election, suggesting he will need a conservative-leaning high court to help secure an electoral victory after the ballots are counted.
"We should act quickly because we're going to have probably election things involved here, you know, because of the fake ballots that they'll be sending out," Trump said, repeating his baseless claim—discredited by numerous studies—that mail-in voting will open the election up to fraud and will unfairly favor the Democratic Party. "We don't want to have a tie, no, we don't."
Trump's short-list is widely believed to include Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative Christian who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and Judge Barbara Lagoa, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and previously served on the state Supreme Court of Florida.
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After Ginsburg's death at the age of 87 on Friday, thousands of mourners attended weekend vigils at the Supreme Court, with some displaying signs reading "Honor R.B.G.: No Nomination Until Inauguration" and "We Must Now Be Ruthless."
Hours after Ginsburg's death was announced, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement saying, "President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate," despite his refusal to hold confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland in 2016 after the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, reasoning that the winner of the presidential election should nominate a successor. Scalia died 10 months before the presidential election, while Ginsburg died less than two months before November's election.
Two Republican senators—Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)—have stated they don't support a Supreme Court nomination and confirmation before the election, but did not rule out a vote in the lame-duck session, should Trump lose to Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Democrats would need two more Republicans to oppose Trump and McConnell's plan to move ahead before the election.
Biden on Sunday night called on a "handful" of Republicans to "please follow your conscience" and oppose a pre-election confirmation vote.
With nearly two-thirds of Americans including a plurality of Republicans saying they believe Ginsburg's final wish must be honored, advocates are targeting Republicans including Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), demanding they stick to their earlier statements in which they said a Supreme Court justice should not be nominated close to a presidential election.
Protesters also gathered outside Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) Washington, D.C. home early Monday morning to demand that the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee delay Supreme Court nomination hearings until after a presidential election winner is announced.
Mitch McConnell and Republicans think this fight is over. But let me be clear: This fight has only just begun—and we’re ready to give it all we’ve got. https://t.co/nhezq9iKfd
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) September 21, 2020
"Mitch McConnell and Republicans think this fight is over," tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Monday."But let me be clear: This fight has only just begun."