The death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has given Donald Trump a remarkable opportunity, according to Dr. Michael Johns, Associate Professor of political science at Laurentian University.
“This is someone who has been in power four years and he will have potentially picked three lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court. Most presidents don’t get that opportunity over an eight-year term.” said Johns.
Ginsburg died of cancer on Friday at age 87. Her passing leaves behind an open seat on the Supreme Court where conservatives outnumber the liberals 5-4, and Trump has a chance to make it a 6-3 court.
The U.S. President on Saturday morning, just hours after the death of Ginsburg, tweeted that Senate Republicans have an “obligation, without delay” to act on his nominee to the Supreme Court, presumably before the November election.
Trump is expected to nominate a replacement, and the Republican-led Senate is sure to try to push a nominee through the confirmation process, and swiftly.
Johns said there is nothing stopping Trump from trying to get his pick approved.
“This can be done. In the past, it has been convention they would not make such appointments this close ahead of elections or in the lame duck period after the election.”
Johns wants people to remember that even if on election night it’s clear that Joe Biden is going to be president and the Senate is going to switch into Democratic control, it doesn’t matter.
“The government continues on until the new Senate is sworn in at the beginning of January and a new president is sworn in at the end of January. They are still the government and could continue the process.”
White House sources have told CBS News that Trump is expected to nominate a replacement for Ginsberg, even if he is not reelected. The sources say he will do everything he can to fill the seat and expand on his legacy of appointing conservative judges to federal courts.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly said he would move swiftly to fill any vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Johns said McConnell in 2016 refused to allow a vote when there was an opening during an election year, and that was in February.
“He said it was inappropriate for that pick to be brought forward by Barack Obama. He said the American people should be allowed to make that decision on who gets picked in November. He is now saying the exact opposite.”
Democrats in the Senate are expected to find any way they can to halt the process, although the Republican-controlled Senate leaves few options at their disposal.
Johns said this is going to motivate liberals and conservatives.
“Both sides can go to their electorate and say everything is to play for. This was already going to be the most important election in the last 100 years in the United States because it is going to determine how the country is going to look. Now, we are talking about a lifetime appointment that will shape the nature of the court.”
Johns said this will have a huge impact.
“On issues such as voting rights, gay, lesbian and transgender rights, abortion, and all of these things are going to be affected by who is going to sit and replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If it already wasn’t the most divisive elections, this has now been put into overdrive.”