Events continue to move fast in the effort to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy caused by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. The president has announced the date and time for the reveal of his nominee; timelines for the confirmation hearings are being floated in the press; one recalcitrant Republican now appears to be on board with going forward; and the senior Senate Democrat has threatened to “use every tool in the toolkit” to delay and possibly derail the confirmation process.
Announcement of Nominee. President Donald Trump has announced a White House press conference for this Saturday, at 5 p.m. Eastern time, at which he will reveal his nominee. Earlier in the week, on Fox and Friends, the president had mentioned that either Friday or Saturday was a possibility, depending on when the various memorials for Justice Ginsburg, including lying in state in the U.S. Capitol rotunda, are complete. Other memorials held for the late justice this week included a private affair at the Supreme Court for family and court personnel.
Confirmation Hearings Timeline. The schedule for the nominee’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee has been a point of discussion on Capitol Hill, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that Republican aides have suggested that the committee could hold hearings the week of October 10 and approve the nomination by October 22, allowing for a full Senate vote around October 26.
Murkowski on Board? Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, stated last Sunday she was opposed to a vote on a Supreme Court nominee before the election. She later qualified her statement by saying, “I do not support this process moving forward. Now, having said that, this process is moving forward with or without me.” She also said that she didn’t know whether she would withhold her vote to protest the timing of the confirmation.
An abstention or a vote of “present” does not count as a “no” vote in Senate proceedings, nor does it count as a vote at all, so her possible abstention, and any others from Republicans, simply lowers the threshold necessary to achieve a majority for confirmation. As noted confirmation expert Manuel Miranda points out in The Washington Times, “Leader McConnell needs only 47 votes in favor and can allow up to six Republicans vote present, if he had to. No problem. A vote of 47 to 47 Democrats will let Vice President Pence break the tie.”
Schumer Warns. In an appearance on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., was asked if he had options for slowing down the nomination. “We have tactical options to slow them down,” Schumer replied. We will use every tool in the toolkit. … Today we delayed committees from going into effect. We had the right to do it and we did it. Tonight, we’re on the [Senate] floor, taking up all the time to talk about how bad this potential nominee [is], and there will be many other things that we will use. You’ll see them in the days ahead. But our number one goal is to slow it down, to give us more time to convince the American people.”
The Daily Citizen will keep you updated on confirmation developments as they happen.