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 GinsburgDemocratic Rep. Mondaire Jones calls on Breyer to retire Democrats roll out legislation to expand Supreme Court Pelosi rips McConnell in new book: He's an 'enabler of some of the worst stuff' 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 TrumpDC goes to the dogs — Major and Champ, that is Biden on refugee cap: 'We couldn't do two things at once' Taylor Greene defends 'America First' effort, pushes back on critics MORE said Monday he would nominate a justice by Friday or Saturday, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP acknowledges struggle to bring down Biden Pew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Pelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' 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 SchumerPew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Former state Rep. Vernon Jones launches challenge to Kemp in Georgia Schumer lays groundwork for future filibuster reform 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 GarlandSunday shows preview: Russia, US exchange sanctions; tensions over policing rise; vaccination campaign continues Hillicon Valley: Facebook Oversight board to rule on Trump ban in 'coming weeks' | Russia blocks Biden Cabinet officials in retaliation for sanctions Russia blocks key Biden Cabinet officials from entering in retaliation for sanctions 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 CollinsModerates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds Anti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle MORE of Maine and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRepublicans who backed Trump impeachment see fundraising boost Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring MORE of Alaska.

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyFor a win on climate, let's put our best player in the game Personal security costs for anti-Trump lawmakers spiked post-riot The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - Biden to Putin: Tough sanctions, straight talk 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 GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 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 CornynSunday shows preview: Russia, US exchange sanctions; tensions over policing rise; vaccination campaign continues GOP acknowledges struggle to bring down Biden Intelligence leaders push for mandatory breach notification law 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 KavanaughBiden's court-packing theater could tame the Supreme Court's conservatives Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting NY Times beclowns itself by normalizing court-packing 'to balance the conservative majority' 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 HawleyRepublicans who backed Trump impeachment see fundraising boost Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring 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 ThuneGOP acknowledges struggle to bring down Biden Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week Biden outreach on infrastructure met with Republican skepticism 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 Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week Greitens Senate bid creates headache for GOP 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.