Senate GOP faces pivotal moment on pick for Supreme Court

Republicans will gather as a conference on Tuesday and for the first time discuss whether to speed forward with confirming a successor to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgSupreme Court's approval rating dips to 49 percent  Anti-abortion movement eyes its holy grail Abortion rights face most difficult test yet at Supreme Court MORE.

All signs suggest the GOP will move with speed to confirm a nominee before Election Day, a move that would upend the Senate and begin a new tumultuous era for the body.

President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York state Senate candidate charged in riot Trump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report GOP senator clashes with radio caller who wants identity of cop who shot Babbitt MORE said Monday he would nominate a justice by Friday or Saturday, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: 'It never occurred to me' convincing Americans to get vaccinated would be difficult The 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal MORE (R-Ky.) in a floor speech said there was “more than enough time” to confirm a nominee before the end of the year.


Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Schumer's moment to transform transit and deepen democracy Pelosi, Schumer vow climate action: 'It is an imperative' MORE (N.Y.) over the weekend said nothing is off the table if Republicans move to replace Ginsburg with a conservative justice before Election Day, just four years after the GOP blocked former President Obama’s nominee, Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandDOJ issues warnings to states on voting laws and audits White House seeks to shield Biden from GOP attacks on crime issue Protesters shut down Greene-Gaetz Jan. 6 event MORE, from getting even a hearing eight months ahead of an election.

Schumer’s threats have been widely interpreted as signals that Democrats would move to do away with the legislative filibuster or even seek to add justices to the Supreme Court if the GOP moves forward.

Only two GOP senators so far have indicated they do not think the Senate should vote on a Trump nominee before the election: Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal Gyms, hotels, bus companies make last-ditch plea for aid MORE of Maine and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers give grueling, horrific accounts of Jan. 6 MORE of Alaska.

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal Trump slams Romney, Senate GOP over infrastructure deal MORE (Utah), who voted to impeach Trump, said Monday evening that he wants to hear more from his colleagues Tuesday before commenting.

“Before I have any comment I’m going to meet with my colleagues, which I’ll be doing tomorrow,” he said. “Until then, I’m going to be waiting.”

But Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerEx-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Biden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms MORE (Colo.), who faces a difficult reelection race, indicated in a statement that he would vote on a Trump nominee.


“I have and will continue to support judicial nominees who will protect our Constitution, not legislate from the bench, and uphold the law,” Garnder said in a statement. “Should a qualified nominee who meets this criteria be put forward, I will vote to confirm.”

A majority of GOP senators support moving forward with a vote, with some arguing the high court needs its full complement of justices in case the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election are disputed, a possibility that senators view as increasingly likely.

“There are some arguments for why you don’t want to have a potential 4-4 split on the court, and I’m concerned about that too,” said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate votes to take up infrastructure deal Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on Eight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division MORE (R-Texas).

Another argument is that voting before Election Day would do more to rev up conservative voters, who turned out in large numbers in swing states in the 2018 midterm elections shortly after Senate Republicans confirmed Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughAn obscure Supreme Court ruling is a cautionary tale of federal power Murkowski leans into record ahead of potentially bruising reelection bid Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump MORE to the Supreme Court after a bitter confirmation fight.

Trump supporters chanted “fill that seat” at a campaign rally the president held in North Carolina on Saturday.

Conversely, filling the seat might dampen Democratic enthusiasm ahead of Election Day as there would no longer be a vacant Supreme Court seat on the line.

A third consideration is that many believe it would become much more challenging politically to confirm Trump’s nominee in a lame-duck session if the president loses reelection and Republicans lose control of the Senate.

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyTrio of Senate Republicans urges Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade Atlanta-area spa shootings suspect set to be arraigned Noem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event MORE (R-Mo.), a rising conservative star, said Monday that he wants to have the vote before Election Day and predicted some of his colleagues might become “less comfortable” about filling the seat in a lame-duck session.

“I think we have an obligation to act. The sooner that we do that, the better,” he said. “I think it’s better if we do it before Election Day than if we drag it out.”

Other GOP senators on Monday declined to speculate about the political implications of a Supreme Court confirmation vote in a lame-duck if Democrats win big on Election Day.

“That’s a hypothetical. I’m not going to go into that,” Senate Republican Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate votes to take up infrastructure deal Senators say they have deal on 'major issues' in infrastructure talks Senators reach billion deal on emergency Capitol security bill MORE (S.D.) said.

Republican senators and GOP aides say Trump’s nominee could receive a hearing, a committee vote and a floor vote in only a few weeks and that no steps will be skipped nor corners cut.


Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntThe 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal Eight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division MORE (R-Mo.) said that while it would be a challenge to complete the confirmation process in 40 days or so, it would not be impossible.

“It would be the new recent world record,” he said, noting that Ginsburg was confirmed in 42 days. “We’d have to do more than we’ve done in a long time to get one done that quickly but it’s possible.

“I think it should take as long as it takes … at the same time, I don’t think we should drag it out,” he added.