Although the Nov. 3 presidential election is fast approaching, the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves a vacancy that Republican President Donald Trump and the slim Republican majority in the Senate could quickly fill.
If a successor is appointed, it would almost certainly push the court, which already had a 5-4 conservative majority, further to the right.
Here are some key details surrounding the potential nomination and confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice.
-With the election 45 days away, Trump still has plenty of time to appoint a justice, a power he enjoys for the duration of his presidency. The president’s term runs until Jan. 20, 2021.
-Once Trump nominates a justice, the Senate Judiciary Committee vets the nominee and holds hearings during which the nominee testifies, answers senators’ questions about his or her qualifications, actions they took in their earlier career, and views on hot-button social and political issues like abortion.
-The nomination then moves to the full senate, where a simple majority of the 100 Senators must vote to confirm. The Republicans currently have a 53-47 majority in the Senate.
-Historically, the average number of days from nomination to final Senate vote is around 70 days, according to the Congressional Research Service. The time from Ginsburg’s nomination to confirmation, however, was just 42 days.
-If Republicans lose their majority on Nov. 3, they would have to confirm the nominee by Jan. 3, when the Senate’s current session ends.
-U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday said Trump’s nominee to fill the vacancy would receive a vote on the floor of the Senate.
-When conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, McConnell refused to allow the Senate to consider Democratic President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy, saying that a Supreme Court nomination should not be taken up during an election year.
-In a move widely credited for mobilizing his supporters before the 2016 election, Trump released a roster of names from which he would choose any potential candidates for the U.S. Supreme Court. On Sept. 9, he released a new list of 20 names, again aiming to bolster support among conservative voters.
-The new list brought to 44 the number of nominees Trump has said he would consider. Among the top contenders is Amy Coney Barrett, a judge on the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
-Barrett’s strong conservative religious views have prompted abortion rights groups to say that if confirmed by the Republican-led U.S. Senate, she would likely vote to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
-Trump’s new list included Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas; Noel Francisco, who served until recently as Trump’s solicitor general; and Paul Clement, the solicitor general under former Republican President George W. Bush.
(Reporting by Andrew Chung in New York.; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Gerry Doyle)