Donald Trump vows to nominate woman judge for Supreme Court ahead of election despite opposition from Democrats

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Washington: President Donald Trump has said he will next week nominate a woman to replace the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Donald Trump’s announcement has escalated a political row with the Democrats over her successor weeks before the presidential election. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a history-making jurist, feminist icon and a champion of women’s rights and social justice. She died of cancer Friday. She was 87. Ginsburg was the second woman ever to serve as a justice on the nation’s highest court.

“I will be putting forth a nominee next week. I could say most likely it would be a woman. I think I can say that. If somebody were to ask me now I would say that a woman would be in first place,” Trump told supporters. He was attending an election rally Saturday in North Carolina.

Trump said he is within his rights to fill the vacancy in the US Supreme Court. It is a move that has infuriated Democrats. They fear Republicans will vote to lock in a decades-long conservative majority on the country’s top court.

“We have great respect for the process. This has happened numerous times and every time there was a nominee as you know. There have been many occasions where frankly it turned out to be during a presidential year,” Trump later told reporters. “I think we’re going to start the process extremely soon. We will have a nominee very soon,” he added.

Trump informed that there about 45 people on his list, but he does have a ‘short list’ for potential nominees.

During the campaign rally, Trump asked his Republican supporters whether the nominee should be a man or a woman. The crowd cheered loudly for a female candidate.

“That’s a very accurate poll (crowd reaction) because that’s the way I feel. I actually like women much more than I like men. I have to say. It would be a woman. A very talented, very intelligent woman,” the president said.

The US president also discussed how he has the power to fill the vacant seat in the Supreme Court. In the US Supreme Court justices serve for life or until they choose to retire.

“So, Article 2 of the Constitution says that the President shall nominate justices of the Supreme Court. I don’t think it can be any more clear, can it?” Trump asked, prompting chants of ‘Fill that seat!’ from the rally crowd.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement Friday night that ‘President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate’.

US media reported that Trump raised two names as nominees. They are of federal appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett and Judge on the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Barbara Lagoa as potential nominees during his call with McConnell on Friday. Both are conservatives who would tip the balance of the Supreme Court in favour of the Republicans.

Democrats have vigorously opposed any nomination to the Supreme Court before the November 3 election. They have argued that in 2016 Senate Republicans blocked the choice of Merrick Garland by Democratic President Barack Obama.

Trump’s Democratic rival in the November 3 presidential election is Joe Biden. He insisted the decision on Ginsburg’s replacement should wait until after the vote. “Voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice to consider,” the former vice-president said.

“This was the position of Republican Senate took in 2016. When there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That’s the position the United States Senate must take today. And the election is only 46 days off,” Biden added.

Obama also condoled the demise of Justice Ginsburg. He however, urged Senate Republicans to uphold the standard they set in 2016 when they blocked his nominee.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought to the end, through her cancer, with unwavering faith in our democracy and its ideals. That’s how we remember her. But she also left instructions for how she wanted her legacy to be honoured,” Obama said.

“Four-and-a-half years ago, when Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in,” Obama noted.

“A basic principle of the law — and of everyday fairness — is that ‘we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment’, the former president underlined.