Republicans look set to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg this weekend

After gaining the support of Senator Mitt Romney, it appears that the Republicans will likely succeed in replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg this Saturday.

After securing the necessary votes, the Republicans seem all but set to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg following her passing over the weekend.

It comes as the Democrats are pushing for the decision to be postponed until after the election, a sentiment echoed by Ginsburg’s final wish.

supreme court nomination ruther bader ginsburg donald trump mitt romney
Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

The highest court in the United States, the Supreme Court is presided over by a Chief Justice and eight associate justices who each have lifetime tenure. This means that, unless they are removed from office, they remain in their position until they either resign, retire or die. Currently, five out of eight justices are conservative, and following the passing of Ginsburg, only three are left-leaning.

In 2016, following the death of Antonin Scalia, Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination was blocked due to the fact that it was an election year. Now, four years later, Donald Trump is pushing to replace Ginsburg, despite the fact that we are a mere 41 days out from the election.

Following her death, Ginsburg’s grandaughter revealed that it was the late justice’s “fervent wish” that she “not be replaced until a new president is installed”. Yet Trump has cast dispersions on this statement, claiming that it may have been made up by Democrats, making clear his intention to replace Ginsburg. This is set to happen on Saturday.

Whilst Supreme Court justice nominations are made by the president, they must be approved by the Senate. Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has confirmed that he would approve Trump’s nomination. However, until today, it was unclear whether he would have the necessary support from Republicans in the Senate chamber. Two centrist Republican senators, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, had flagged that they would not support the confirmation of a new judicial appointment in an election year.

It was thought that Senator Mitt Romney, who has a rocky history with Trump (he was the only Republican who voted against the president in his impeachment trial), might also go against the decision; however, Romney has now come forward and said that he would consider Trump’s nominee. If Trump is successful in appointing a new Supreme Court Justice, the move would well and truly solidify the court’s ideological leaning, giving it a 6-3 conservative majority.

“My decision regarding a Supreme Court nomination is not the result of a subjective test of ‘fairness’ which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder,” Romney said, according to the BBC.

“It is based on the immutable fairness of following the law, which in this case is the Constitution and precedent. The historical precedent of election year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party’s nominee but does confirm a nominee of its own.” 

If Trump does replace Ginsburg prior to the election and the Democrats go on to win, they may decide to add more seats to the Supreme Court in order to give it more of an ideological balance. Yet in the meantime, Ginsburg’s replacement could have a profound impact on upcoming issues of abortion, voting rights, healthcare, gun rights, and presidential powers.

So who is Trump’s likely pick? Trump has pledged to choose a woman to fill Ginsburg’s role, and at this point, the two front runners are Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa, who are both currently appeals court judges.

Barrett, 48, was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2017 and is a favourite among anti-abortion rights advocates due to her Catholic background. If elected, she would be the youngest justice, meaning she could serve for decades to come.

Meanwhile, Lagoa, 52, was appointed to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals last December. Prior to this, she was the first Hispanic woman and the first Cuban American woman on the Supreme Court of Florida. Unlike Barrett, she supports Roe v. Wade, the landmark US ruling which protects a woman’s rights to have an abortion.

At this point, it looks like Barrett is tipped as the favourite. Trump is set to announce his new Supreme Court nominee at 5 pm on Saturday.