Trump promises to replace Ginsburg with a woman – and soon

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is promising to put forth a female nominee in the coming week to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, pushing the Republican-controlled Senate to consider the pick without delay.

Taking the stage Saturday night at a North Carolina rally to chants of “Fill that seat,” the president said he would nominate his selection despite Democrats’ objections. And, after conducting what he joked was a “very scientific poll” of the Fayetteville crowd as to whether supporters wanted a man or a woman, he declared the choice would be “a very talented, very brilliant woman.”

He added that he did not yet know whom he would choose.

“We win an election and those are the consequences,” said the president, who then seemed to signal that he’d be willing to accept a vote on his nominee during the lame-duck period after the election. “We have a lot of time. We have plenty of time. We’re talking about January 20th.”

But one Republican senator had already broken ranks. Maine’s Susan Collins, who is in a tough reelection battle, said earlier Saturday that she believed replacing Ginsburg should be the decision of the president who is elected Nov. 3. Three more defections from the GOP ranks would be needed to stop Trump’s nominee from joining the court.

At stake is a seat held by a justice who was a champion of women’s rights and spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court’s liberal wing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. vowed to call a vote for Trump’s nominee, but Democrats countered that Republicans should follow the precedent that GOP legislators set in 2016 by refusing to consider a Supreme Court choice in the run-up to an election.

The impending clash over the vacant seat — when to fill it and with whom — scrambles the stretch run of a presidential race for a nation already reeling from the pandemic that has killed nearly 200,000 people, left millions unemployed and heightened partisan tensions and anger.

McConnell pledged to Trump in a phone call Friday night to bring the choice to a vote though he has not said if it would be before the election.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said any selection should come after Nov. 3. “Voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice to consider,” he said. Biden has promised to nominate a Black woman to the high court if given the chance, but he has said he will not release names of possible nominees before the election.

55 PHOTOSRuth Bader GinsburgSee GalleryRuth Bader GinsburgWASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 30: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, celebrating her 20th anniversary on the bench, is photographed in the West conference room at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday, August 30, 2013. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20:(L-R) U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, with Justices, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan listen as U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2015 in Washington, DC. Obama presented a broad agenda including attempts to address income inequality and making it easier for Americans to afford college education and child care.(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20:U.S. President Barack Obama hugs Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Justices Anthony M. Kennedy (L) and Stephen G. Breyer look on prior to the State of the Union address on January 20, 2015 in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Obama was expected to lay out a broad agenda to address income inequality, making it easier for Americans to afford college education, and child care.(Photo by Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20:U.S. President Barack Obama hugs Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before delivering the State of the Union address in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 20, 2015 in Washington, DC. Obama was expected to lay out a broad agenda to address income inequality, making it easier for Americans to afford college education, and child care. Also pictured are Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R) (R-OH).(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 30: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, celebrating her 20th anniversary on the bench, is photographed in the East conference room at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday, August 30, 2013. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 19:Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gives a toast at the New Republic Centennial Gala at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on November 19, 2014 in Washington, DC.(Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images)Ruth Bader Ginsburg, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, stands in her chambers following an interview in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. Ginsburg, 80, the oldest member of the Supreme Court and appointed to the court in 1993 by Democratic President Bill Clinton, has said on several occasions that she wants to match the longevity of Justice Louis Brandeis, who was 82 when he stepped down in 1939. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 17:Honorable Samuel Alito, Jr. (L) Associate Justice of Supreme Court of the United States and Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg Associate Justice of Supreme Court of the United States attend Richard Tucker Music Foundation’s 38th annual gala at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center on November 17, 2013 in New York City.(Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 17:Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of Supreme Court of the United States, attends Richard Tucker Music Foundation’s 38th annual gala at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center on November 17, 2013 in New York City.(Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images)USA – 2013 300 dpi Chris Ware color caricature of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. MCT via Getty Images 2013WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 28:Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) (L) shakes hands with U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (R) as Associate Justice Stephen Breyer look son before President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on January 28, 2014 in Washington, DC. In his fifth State of the Union address, Obama is expected to emphasize on healthcare, economic fairness and new initiatives designed to stimulate the U.S. economy with bipartisan cooperation.(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)US Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg (L), and Stephen Breyer (R) listen as US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on January 28, 2014 at the US Capitol in Washington.AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI(Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 17:Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg waits for the beginning of the taping of ‘The Kalb Report’ April 17, 2014 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The Kalb Report is a discussion of media ethics and responsibility at the National Press Club held each month. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 17:Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia (L) and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (R) wait for the beginning of the taping of ‘The Kalb Report’ April 17, 2014 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.The Kalb Report is a discussion of media ethics and responsibility at the National Press Club held each month. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 30: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, celebrating her 20th anniversary on the bench, is photographed in the West conference room at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday, August 30, 2013. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 30: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, celebrating her 20th anniversary on the bench, is photographed in the East conference room at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday, August 30, 2013. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)Ruth Bader Ginsburg, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, looks out the window of her chambers following an interview in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. Ginsburg, 80, the oldest member of the Supreme Court and appointed to the court in 1993 by Democratic President Bill Clinton, has said on several occasions that she wants to match the longevity of Justice Louis Brandeis, who was 82 when he stepped down in 1939. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 12: Members of the Supreme Court, (L-R) Chief Justice John Roberts and associate justices Anthony Kennendy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, applaud as U.S. President Barack Obama arrives to deliver his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol February 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. Facing a divided Congress, Obama focused his speech on new initiatives designed to stimulate the U.S. economy and said, ‘ItÕs not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth’. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 12:Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg attends President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol February 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. Facing a divided Congress, Obama focused his speech on new initiatives designed to stimulate the U.S. economy and said, ‘ItÕs not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth’.(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, left, and Elena Kagan attend the opening night gala of the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. The gala followed a performance of ‘Anna Bolena.’ Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg via Getty Images NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 12:Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg poses backstage at the 22nd annual Glamour Women of the Year Awards at Carnegie Hall on November 12, 2012 in New York City.(Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage for Glamour Magazine)NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 12:Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks onstage at the 22nd annual Glamour Women of the Year Awards at Carnegie Hall on November 12, 2012 in New York City.(Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage for Glamour Magazine)UNITED STATES – JANUARY 21: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrives for the luncheon in Statuary Hall during President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)CAMBRIDGE – MAY 26: While standing to receive her honorary degree, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is surprised with a serenade from Spanish tenor Placido Domingo (right) after he received his honorary degree.Sitting between them are commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia, and Harvard president Drew Faust (right rear).Harvard University holds its commencement exercises in Tercentenary Theatre, on Thursday, May 26, 2011. (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)WASHINGTON – APRIL 10:CEO Niche Media Jason Binn and the honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg pose for a photo at Capitol File Magazine’s After Party for Robert Redford’s The Conspirator at The Newseum on April 10, 2011 in Washington, DC.(Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage for Niche Media)WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 25:U.S President Barack Obama (C) greets (L-R) Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer before the State of the Union address on Capitol Hill on January 25, 2011 in Washington, DC. During his speech Obama was expected to focus on the U.S. economy and increasing education and infrastructure funding while proposing a three-year partial freeze of domestic programs and $78 billion in military spending cuts.(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court, speaks during The Women’s Conference in Long Beach, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010. Originally established in 1985, the event has grown into the largest one-day conference for women in the U.S., and has a mission to empower women to be ‘Architects of Change.’ Photographer: Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesLONG BEACH, CA – OCTOBER 26: Diane Swayer (L), and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speak during the Maria Shriver Women’s Conference at the Long Beach Convention Center on October 26, 2010 in Long Beach, California.(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)LONG BEACH, CA – OCTOBER 26:Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg attends California first lady Maria Shriver’s annual Women’s Conference 2010 on October 26, 2010 at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, California. Attendees to the conference include Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and candidates for California Governor Republican Meg Whitman and Democrat Jerry Brown.(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)LONG BEACH, CA – OCTOBER 26:Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (C) looks at former justice Sandra Day O’Connor (R) speak during a discussion with ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer (L) during California first lady Maria Shriver’s annual Women’s Conference 2010 on October 26, 2010 at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, California. Attendees to the conference include Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and candidates for California Governor Republican Meg Whitman and Democrat Jerry Brown.(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)The newest member of the US Supreme Court, Associate Justice Elena Kagan (C), participates in the courts official photo session with Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy (L) and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (R) on October 8, 2010 at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO / TIM SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. From left: Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Antonin Scalia, Stephen Breyer, Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/MCT via Getty Images)Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/MCT via Getty Images)WASHINGTON – OCTOBER 08:U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg poses for photographs in the East Conference Room at the Supreme Court building October 8, 2010 in Washington, DC. This is the first time in history that three women are simultaneously serving on the court.(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)The Justices of the US Supreme Court sit for their official photograph on October 8, 2010 at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Front row (L-R): Associate Justice Clarence Thomas,Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Back Row (L-R): Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr. and Associate Justice Elena Kagan. AFP PHOTO / TIM SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)SAN FRANCISCO – AUGUST 09:U.S. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is seen on a video screen as she speaks to delegates at the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates meeting August 9, 2010 in San Francisco, California. Justice Ginsburg was honored with the prestigous ABA Medal, the Bar Association’s highest honor.(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)SAN FRANCISCO – AUGUST 09:U.S. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks to delegates at the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates meeting August 9, 2010 in San Francisco, California. Justice Ginsburg was honored with the prestigous ABA Medal, the Bar Association’s highest honor.(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (R) arrives for a reception in honor of Designated Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan August 6, 2010, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC.Kagan has become only the fourth woman to win confirmation as Supreme Court justice.AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)US President Barack Obama is greeted by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg prior to delivering his first State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 27, 2010. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg poses during a group photo September 29, 2009 in the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)WASHINGTON – SEPTEMBER 29:Members of the US Supreme Court pose for a group photograph at the Supreme Court building on September 29, 2009 in Washington, DC.Front row (L-R): Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. Back Row (L-R),Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr., Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)UNITED STATES – FEBRUARY 24:Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg walks through Statuary Hall before President Barack Obama’s address to the joint session of Congress on Feb. 24, 2009.(Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images)US Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (L) greets US President Barack Obama before he addresses a Joint Session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington on February 24, 2009. AFP PHOTO/SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)US Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrives before US President Barack Obama addresses a Joint Session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington on February 24, 2009. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrives for President Barack Obama address to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber of the Capitol in Washington on February 24, 2009.AFP PHOTO / POOL / Pablo Martinez Monsivais) (Photo credit should read PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/AFP/Getty Images)WASHINGTON – FEBRUARY 24: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrives for President Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol on February 24, 2009 in Washington, DC. U.S. President Barack Obama will address a joint session of the Congress at 9:01pm tonight where he plans to address the topics of the struggling U.S. economy, the budget deficit, and health care.(Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)WASHINGTON – JUNE 8:U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg waits to enter a dinner to honor Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s first female president, May 8, 2006 in Washington, DC. Over 350 women leaders including Sen. Susan Collins (R-MI), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-Il), Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL), US Treasurer Anna Escobedo Cabral, Actress Geena Davis and Editor-at-Large of Fortune Magazine Pattie Sellers are expected to attend.(Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)SLUG: ME-READING19 PHOTOGRAPHER: NIKKI KAHN/THE WASHINGTON POST DATE: 9/18/2006The Kennedy Center, Washington, DCSupreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during the reading of the Constitution at Georgetown University’s Gonda Theater in Washington, D.C., on Monday, September 18, 2006.(Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post/Getty Images)U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks during a discussion on the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gestures while introduced during the inaugural Herma Hill Kay Memorial Lecture at the University of California at Berkeley, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, right, listens as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019, at Georgetown Law’s second annual Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecture, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, smiles as she attends a panel discussion celebrating Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to be a Supreme Court Justice, Wednesday Sept. 25, 2019, at the Library of Congress in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at Georgetown Law in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 19: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Ria Tabacco Mar speak at the DVF 2020 Awards at the Library of Congress on February 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images for DVF)PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – DECEMBER 19: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks on stage during her induction into The National Museum Of American Jewish History’s Only In America Gallery at National Museum of American Jewish History on December 19, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)Up Next

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Trump this month added 20 more names to his roster of potential court nominees, and aides in recent days have focused on a short list heavy on female candidates, according to four White House aides and officials close to the process. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations.

Those under close consideration for the high court include three women who are federal appeals court judges: Amy Coney Barrett, beloved among conservatives and an early favorite; Barbara Lagoa, who is Hispanic and comes from the battleground state of Florida; and Allison Jones Rushing, who clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas and for Neil Gorsuch, when the current Trump-appointed justice was an appeals court judge.

At least one man, appeals court Judge Amul Thapar, has also been under consideration. A McConnell ally from Kentucky, he has been screened by Trump’s team for past openings and he would be the first Asian American on the high court.

McConnell, who sets the calendar in the Senate and has made judicial appointments his priority, declared unequivocally in a statement that Trump’s nominee would receive a confirmation vote. In 2016, McConnell refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee months before the election, eventually preventing a vote on Judge Merrick Garland.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York convened a conference call with Democratic senators at midday Saturday, according to a person on the private call who was not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. He told senators the “No. 1 goal” must be to communicate the stakes of the confirmation vote.

Schumer also warned that if Republicans push through the nominee, “nothing is off the table” for Senate rules changes to come, the person said.

Ginsburg’s death seemed certain to stoke enthusiasm in both political parties as the election could now be viewed as referendum on the high court’s decisions, including the future of abortion rights. Democrats raised more than $71 million in the hours after Ginsburg’s death, indicating her passing has already galvanized the party’s base.

Hundreds of mourners gathered for a second night outside the Supreme Court building, holding candles in honor of Ginsburg and listening to a succession of testimonies and rallying speeches. Among the speakers was Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who eulogized Ginsberg as “an icon, a trailblazer and a friend” and accused McConnell of seeking to cynically hijack the confirmation process.

“Today Mitch McConnell and his henchmen think they can ram through a Supreme Court justice only 45 days before the election,” Warren said. “What Mitch McConnell doesn’t understand is that the fight has just begun.”

A confirmation vote in the Senate is not guaranteed, even with a Republican majority.

McConnell has launched a risky, unprecedented strategy. It could motivate conservative voters to rally behind Trump and GOP senators or it could push away moderates who prefer to see the Senate stick to norms or are fearful of a right-leaning court stripping away women’s right to choose an abortion.

Typically, it takes several months to vet and hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee, and time is short before November. Key senators may be reluctant to cast votes so close to the election. With a slim GOP majority, 53 seats in the 100-member chamber, Trump’s choice could afford to lose only a few.

McConnell did not specify the timing. But trying for confirmation in a lame-duck session after the Nov. 3 election, if Trump had lost to Biden or Republicans had lost the Senate, would carry further political complications.

Democrats immediately denounced McConnell’s move as hypocritical, pointing out that he refused to call hearings for Garland 237 days before the 2016 election. The 2020 election is 46 days away.

The average number of days to confirm a justice, according to the Congressional Research Service, is 69, which would be after the election. But some Republicans quickly noted that Ginsburg was confirmed in just 42 days. Obama waited more than a month to nominate Garland after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016.

John Fischetti, who waited in line more than two hours to enter Trump’s Fayetteville rally, said replacing Ginsburg would inflame tensions but was within the president’s rights.

“I would assume it would make everyone more energized,” Fischetti said of the political repercussions. “Trump’s people want him to always press forward.”

Four GOP defections could defeat a nomination, while a tie vote could be broken by Vice President Mike Pence. After Collins’ decision, focus grew on Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah, who have been critical of Trump and protective of the institution of the Senate.

And because the Arizona Senate race is a special election, that seat could be filled as early as Nov. 30 — which would narrow the window for McConnell if the Democratic candidate, Mark Kelly, wins.

The next pick could shape important decisions beyond abortion rights, including any legal challenges that may stem from the 2020 election. In the interim, if the court were to take cases with eight justices, 4-4 ties would revert the decision to a lower court; for instance, the Affordable Care Act could then be struck down by a lower Texas court.

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Lemire reported from New York. Peoples reported from Montclair, New Jersey. Additional reporting by Darlene Superville, Alexandra Jaffe and Ashraf Khalil in Washington and Kevin Freking and Bryan Anderson in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

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