Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced on Tuesday that he would support the process of naming and confirming a nominee for the Supreme Court from President Trump to fill the vacancy created by the recent passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Two recent polls, however, show that most Americans want the process slowed down to allow the winner of November’s presidential election to make that decision.
“I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the President’s nominee. If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications,” Romney said in a statement regarding his decision.
Also on Tuesday, Trump on Twitter said he would name his Supreme Court pick this weekend.
“I will be announcing my Supreme Court Nominee on Saturday, at the White House!” the president wrote.
Some had held out hope that the Utah senator would not support a vote before the November presidential election, which is just 42 days away, and would further support allowing the winner of that election — either Trump, or his main rival, Democratic nominee Joe Biden — to make the eventual pick for the high court. To prevent rushing through the nomination before the election, however, every senator in the Democratic Party (including those who caucus with them), plus four Republican senators, would have to pledge not to support the process.
Only two Republicans so far — Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have made such a proclamation. With Romney’s announcement on Tuesday, however, it’s almost a certainty that a vote before the election will happen.
Many legal experts have noted that the push to replace Ginsburg, who died on Friday, is hypocritical, as Republicans refused to even consider hearings for then-President Barack Obama’s judicial nominee when he sought to fill a seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. GOP lawmakers justified their refusal to act at the time by arguing the American people should have a say in the matter through that year’s presidential election, even though it was 10 months away.
Just six weeks out from this year’s presidential race, Republicans have changed their tune, insisting that a replacement be named and voted on before voters have a say in who the next president will be.
As for the American people, two polls out this week demonstrate they do not agree with the GOP’s move to rush a lifetime judicial appointment to the highest court in the country. Instead, a majority of the people want the same standard used in 2016 to be applied this time around, too.
A Politico/Morning Consult poll published this week found that 50 percent of Americans want the winner of this year’s presidential race to pick the Supreme Court’s next justice. Only 37 percent said that Trump should make the pick, regardless of whether he’s the winner or not.
Respondents in a Reuters/Ipsos poll, also published this week, voiced more opposition to the move by Republicans. Less than a quarter of Americans (23 percent), according to that poll, said Trump should make the pick right now or during the lame duck session after the election, while 62 percent said that the eventual winner of the election should make the pick. Notably within that poll, 5 in 10 Republican respondents also said the eventual winner of the presidential election should be the one to decide.
Since 1975, it has typically taken around 70 days for a Supreme Court nominee to receive a vote in the Senate regarding their appointment. With the election day set to occur 42 days from now, there’s a high possibility that Trump, who is projected by a number of analysts to be losing his election fight against Biden at the moment, could lose the election but have his nominee confirmed nonetheless after the election takes place.