President Donald Trump said on Monday he is choosing among five women to nominate to the Supreme Court by the end of the week, and is pushing for the nominee to be confirmed by Election Day.
Trump said that he has had conversations with his potential nominees, and could meet with them in person later in the week.
“I’d rather see it all take place before the election,” Trump said to reporters.
The nominee would replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday after a bout with metastatic pancreatic cancer. No matter the nominee, they will face one of the most challenging nomination processes ever seen.
Election Day is just 43 days away, which will make for a shorter nomination process than typically seen. Also, the Senate generally takes the weeks leading up to the election off to allow for senators to campaign. Nomination hearings might force senators to stay closer to Washington in the critical days leading to the election.
The timing has both frustrated and stymied Democrats. In 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would not consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016. That left the Supreme Court down to eight justices for over an entire year.
But this time, McConnell says its different with Republicans holding both the Senate and White House.
“The American people re-elected our majority in 2016,” McConnell said. “They strengthened it further in 2018 because we pledged to work with President trump on the most critical issues facing our country. The federal judiciary was right at the top of the list. Ironically it was the democratic leader who went out of his way to declare the midterm 2018 elections a referendum on the handle of the Supreme Court."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer fired back at McConnell.
"To decide it at this late moment is despicable and wrong and against democracy,” he said.
McConnell and Trump could face hurdles from within the party. Republicans hold a 53-47 Senate advantage and a 50-50 tie would be broken by Vice President Mike Pence. If four Republicans choose to vote against a confirmation, the vote likely fails.
So far, Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have said they would wait until after the election to vote for a nominee. There are three other Republican senators, Mitt Romney, Chuck Grassley and Cory Gardner, whose vote is still in question. What these senators decide will likely determine whether Trump will be able to fulfill his wish of getting a nominee through by Election Day.