The death of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, will, in all likelihood, lead to an ugly fist fight between the Republicans and the Democrats. Joe Biden, who challenges President Trump in the November 3 election, has said he wants the replacement to be delayed until after the election is over and a new president installed. However, political observers do not see the chance of Trump backing off from making the crucial decision.
Ginsburg, a fierce champion of liberal causes in the court, died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 87 on Friday.
President Trump can, technically, win the battle with the Democrats as the Republicans control the Senate, which has to confirm any presidential appointment to the US Supreme Court. In doing so, the President can bolster his cause in many ways.
By decisively shaping the Conservative outlook of the court, Trump can win greater support in the core rank and file of his Republican voter base. Not until President Ronald Raegan in the 80s has a president got the opportunity to appoint three life-time justices to the Supreme Court. Trump appointed Conservative justices Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. With another conservative justice on the court, the liberal voice in the US supreme Court will be muffled for long.
For the Republicans, the appointment of another social conservative on the Supreme Court will be an important milestone. That will help them drive conservative agenda on contentious matters like abortion, gun rights, LGBT rights etc.
And, another Trump appointment to the Supreme Court will give the Republicans greater heft on the top court should the 2020 presidential election go to the wire and cause serious litigation, like in 2000. The 2000 presidential election was finally decided in the Supreme court after the votes in Florida were too close to call. The news networks called the election for Al Gore first, then for George W. Bush. At one point Gore conceded, then retracted it, launching a protracted legal battle.
The agonizing court battle over the election outcome came to an end nearly a month and half after the election day, when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 over the crucial matter of Florida vote recount. The Conservative five-justice majority in the Supreme Court clearly helped Bush get the presidency.
Given all this Trump is unlikely to budge in the face of opposition. Should he hurry through a nomination before the elections, who will end up being selected? The following appear to be some probable candidates.
Amy Coney Barrett
Barrett, who is a judge on the US Court of Appeals, was on Trump's shortlist for his second Supreme Court nomination. She is seen as a huge favourite this time, as Trump might want to appoint a woman judge to replace Ginsberg. Further, a high profile woman appointment can politically offset the Biden advantage stemming from the selection of Kamala Harris as vice-presidential nominee. Barrett is 48.
Another likely female candidate to the Supreme COurt is Britt Grant, a former justice on the Georgia Supreme Court. She is 42, and will have a long tenure at the Supreme Court if selected.
According to a USA Today report, yet another female candidate whom Trump could line up is Allison Eid, who once served as a law clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas. She is 55 and was in Trump's shortlist in 2016.
Larsen also was a law clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia, besides having worked as professor at University of Michigan School of Law. Larsen, 51, had also worked in the Bush administration.