US President Donald Trump raced on Monday to cement a conservative majority on the US Supreme Court before the Nov 3 election, telling reporters he planned by Saturday to reveal his pick to succeed liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said he was zeroing in on one or two candidates among five who are under consideration. He called on the Senate, controlled by his fellow Republicans, to vote on confirmation before the election in which he is seeking a second term.
I'd much rather have a vote before the election, he said. We have plenty of time to do it.
Two federal appeals court judges appointed by Trump are clear front-runners: Amy Coney Barrett of the Chicago-based 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals and Barbara Lagoa of the Atlanta-based 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals. Trump met with Barrett at the White House on Monday, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Ginsburg died on Friday of complications from pancreatic cancer at age 87.
Trump's announcement would come before Ginsburg is due to be buried privately at Arlington National Cemetery next week.
Officials have arranged for a public viewing of her body outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday and inside the US Capitol on Friday.
Ginsburg's death gives Trump and his party an opportunity to establish a 6-3 conservative majority on a court whose decisions influence many spheres of American life including abortion, healthcare, gun rights, voting access, presidential powers and the death penalty.
With Republicans holding a 53-47 majority in the Senate, it would require at least four of them to break ranks to stop the nomination from going through. Two Republican senators - Maine's Susan Collins and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski - said over the weekend that the chamber should not move forward with a Trump nominee before the election
But Democrats' hope of keeping Ginsburg's seat empty took a hit on Monday when Chuck Grassley, a Republican senator from Iowa, signaled his support for moving forward quickly.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said any vote should take place next year.
That was Justice Ginsburg's dying wish. And it may be the Senate's only, last hope, Schumer said.
Speaking of the possible candidates, Trump said: They're all outstanding but I have one or two that I have in mind. He called Barrett very respected.He said he might meet with Lagoa in Miami later this week, adding: I don't know her but I hear she's outstanding.
Obstacles loom for either candidate in the bitterly divided Senate.
Barrett could face opposition from Collins and Murkowski over concerns that she would roll back abortion rights.
Lagoa, a Cuban American from the battleground state of Florida, is not as well known, which could slow down the confirmation process.