The next few weeks may prove some of the most tumultuous in recent American political history. Americans are voting in a presidential election amid a global pandemic, after a summer of violent leftist riots, and amid a rough-and-tumble Supreme Court battle after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Vote-by-mail schemes have faced numerous legal challenges, and the Supreme Court term begins next month. President Donald Trump will name a female nominee later this week and the Senate will vote on her — as Democrats fight tooth and nail to prevent it.
Only, they can’t. When then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) chose the “nuclear option” and confirmed Barack Obama’s judges with a mere majority of the U.S. Senate, he opened the door for Republicans to do the same. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), himself in a close reelection battle, announced on Tuesday that the Republicans already have the votes to bring Trump’s nominee to a vote before the November 3 election, whoever she may be.
“We’ve got the votes to confirm Justice Ginsburg’s replacement before the election,” Graham told Fox News on Monday. “We’re going to move forward in the committee, we’re going to report the nomination out of the committee to the floor of the United States Senate so we can vote before the election. Now, that’s the constitutional process.”
In order for the full Senate to vote on Trump’s nominee, she has to make it through the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Democrats on that committee are notoriously vicious to Trump’s judicial nominees — especially those with firm religious convictions. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) notoriously berated Notre Dame law professor Amy Coney Barrett (now a likely frontrunner for the nomination), claiming that “the dogma lives loudly within you.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), now Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, has launched witch hunts against Trump’s nominees because they belonged to the Catholic fraternal order the Knights of Columbus. She has also cited the scandal-plagued far-left smear factory the Southern Poverty Law Center to attack nominees with ties to organizations falsely branded as “hate groups.”
It seems Graham wants to rush Trump’s nominee through the Judiciary Committee, and he has the votes. He probably would not be able to do so without holding at least one hearing, and a hearing would tie up the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee, exposing her bigotry against traditional Christians in public.
President Trump has signaled his intention to choose either Barrett, now a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, or Barbara Lagoa, a Cuban-American judge on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Trump met with Barrett at the White House on Monday and he will make his announcement in Miami, where Lagoa is based. Conversations between the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office have focused on Barrett and Lagoa, the Associated Press reported.
Biden has insisted that the Senate should wait until after the election to vote on Trump’s nominee. “If I win… I should be the one who nominates Ginsburg’s successor,” he said. Some Democrats have suggested that if Trump nominates and the Senate confirms Ginsburg’s successor and if Democrats take the White House and the Senate, they will pack the Supreme Court, adding new justices to swing the balance of the Court. Tragically, Democrats have shown an increasing willingness to get rid of American constitutional norms in order to advance their agenda, from abolishing the Electoral College to ending the Senate filibuster.
Many Democrats seem to think the Senate cannot confirm Trump’s nominee before the election, but Graham has reason to be optimistic on that score. President Trump will announce his nominee on Saturday, 38 days before Election Day.
If the Senate confirms Trump’s nominee in that time, that will not be a record for the fastest Supreme Court confirmation. The Senate confirmed Justice John Paul Stevens a mere 19 days after his nomination. The Senate confirmed Justice Sandra Day O’Connor 33 days after her nomination. The Senate confirmed Ruth Bader Ginsburg 42 days after her nomination.
Especially if the results of the 2020 election will be delayed, as many observers warn, the Senate may have enough time to confirm Trump’s nominee before the final results are known.
It may prove particularly vital for the Senate to confirm a justice as soon as possible, given the court challenges to vote-by-mail schemes and the expected uncertainty in the final results of the election. A nine-member Court is better positioned to decide tense cases and to set precedents.
Graham says he has the votes to usher Trump’s nominee right up to a full vote of the U.S. Senate before Election Day, but Democrats are likely to pull out the stops to accuse her of anything they can and stall the process by whatever means necessary. Get ready for a bumpy ride.
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Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.