President Donald Trump said Monday that he would announce a replacement for the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by either Friday or Saturday.
During a morning interview on “Fox and Friends,” the president said the administration wanted to pay its respects to Ginsburg, who died Friday night from complications with cancer, before announcing a nominee later this week. Trump is scheduled to campaign in Pennsylvania on Saturday.
While Senate Democrats have vocalized their opposition to filling the Supreme Court vacancy with 42 days till the presidential election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. issued a statement on Friday that the Senate would move to vote on a nominee from the president.
McConnell refused to hold hearings for Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s last nominee for the Supreme Court in 2016, arguing that the nomination should not be filled in a presidential election year.
Pennsylvania’s senior United States senator, Democrat Bob Casey, of Scranton, has already said he opposes naming a replacement for Ginsburg before the next presidential election.
“Consistent with the precedent set by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2016, Justice Ginsburg’s seat should not be filled until the presidential election concludes and the candidate chosen by voters is sworn into office,” Casey tweeted Friday in the hours after the news of Ginsburg’s death, from complications of cancer, became public.
Consistent with the precedent set by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2016, Justice Ginsburg’s seat should not be filled until the presidential election concludes and the candidate chosen by voters is sworn into office.
— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) September 19, 2020
While he has publicly mourned Ginsburg’s death, Pennsylvania’s other senator, Republican Pat Toomey, has not made a public statement about how the late justice’s replacement should be chosen. A spokesman said an announcement could be coming soon.
— ByJohnLMicek (@ByJohnLMicek) September 19, 2020
In February 2016, as debate raged over Garland’s nomination, Toomey, of Lehigh County said he believed that “with the U.S. Supreme Court’s balance at stake, and with the presidential election fewer than eight months away, it is wise to give the American people a more direct voice in the selection and confirmation of the next justice.”
Ginsburg, 87, was the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court and praised as a champion for women’s rights. The Supreme Court announced that Ginsburg will lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday and will lie at the Capitol on Friday.
Trump said he has narrowed his pick to five women. That shortlist includes Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago, Judge Barbara Lagoa of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, Judge Allison Jones Rushing of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond and Kate Todd, a deputy White House counsel.
The president did not disclose his other picks during Monday’s interview. He did also refer to “a great one from Michigan,” and the Detroit News said his reference was to Michigan federal appeals judge Joan Larsen.
“They’re all very smart,” Trump said.
The president nominated Barrett for the 7th Circuit, which runs jurisdiction in Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois, in 2017. Her anti-abortion views have made her a favorite among conservatives.
She also clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia after she graduated from Notre Dame University Law School.
Rushing was also nominated by Trump in 2018 to serve in the 4th Circuit, which includes Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia. She also clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas and was a partner at Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C.
But Lagoa, who has strong ties to Florida — a key battleground state for the president and his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Bidden — is also a top contender.
The 11th circuit runs jurisdiction in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
“She’s excellent,” Trump said. “She’s Hispanic.”
Lagoa is the daughter of Cuban immigrants and was born in Miami, where Trump and Biden are vying for Latino support.
In early September, Biden visited Kissimmee, Florida, to unveil a plan to support Puerto Rico, which is still struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria from three years ago that left more than 3,000 Americans dead. After Hurricane Maria, thousands of Puerto Ricans settled in Florida, including Kissimmee and Orlando, which are areas with a high Puerto Rican population.
Similarly Trump announced a nearly $13 billion plan last week to help rebuild the island’s power grid that was damaged during the storm, leaving Americans without electricity for weeks.
The president acknowledged that Lagoa’s ties to Florida could help him in his re-election campaign.
“Florida, we love Florida,” he said.
The president said the Senate would have “plenty of time,” to confirm his nominee to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court before November’s presidential election.