WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Monday he will announce his Supreme Court pick at the end of this week because he wants to wait until after memorial services for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“I think it (the announcement) will be on Friday or Saturday,” Trump said during an interview on “Fox & Friends.”
The decision will likely trigger a political firestorm in the heat of Trump’s election battle with Democrat Joe Biden, and both parties have pledged to make the future of the high court a major campaign issue.
Trump said he is considering four or five women for the high court slot, but aides and advisers have said that two top the list are appeals court judges Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa.
Asked specifically about Lagoa, Trump said “she’s excellent” and noted she is from a politically important state: “She’s Hispanic … Florida – we love Florida.”
Lagoa was a runner-up when Trump nominated Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.
Trump said he wants to see a confirmation vote before the Nov. 3 election.
“The final vote should be taken before the election,” Trump told Fox. “We have a lot of time.”
Senate Democrats have said they will try to block the nominee, arguing that the winner of the upcoming November election should have the right to make the life-time appointment – an argument Republicans used when a high court vacancy happened just before the 2016 presidential election.
It’s uncertain whether Senate Republican leaders have enough votes to move forward with any nomination.
In his Fox interview, Trump said the Supreme Court issue would be good for Republican senators facing tough re-election battles. He specifically cited Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., though he has not said whether the Senate should vote on a Supreme Court nomination in the midst of an election.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have said there should not be a Supreme Court nomination vote in the middle of an election.
There will be memorials and services for Ginsburg early in the week, delaying Trump’s announcement of a nominee.
Trump and some Republicans see the opening as an historic opportunity for conservatives to consolidate control of the Supreme Court. There are currently five conservatives on the nine-member court.
If Republicans follow through, Democrats have vowed retaliation should they win control of the Senate in the November elections. Some lawmakers have talked about increasing the size of the Supreme Court and ending the right of the minority to filibuster legislation. Supreme Court seats are lifetime appointments. If there were more seats on the court, a future Democratic president could potentially have a chance to tilt the court back in a more liberal direction.
Biden weighed in on the Supreme Court dispute Sunday, delivering a speech in Philadelphia accusing Republicans of hypocrisy in trying to fill the seat this election year even though they blocked Obama’s nominee back in 2016.
Trying to “jam” through a nominee under these circumstances, Biden said, would represent only “raw political power.”
The issue of the court pick has energized Trump’s supporters. At a rally Saturday in North Carolina, his supporters chanted, “Fill That Seat!” That phrase now adorns a T-shirt that the Trump campaign is selling on its website.