2020-09-20 16:20:38 UTC
*Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed on Friday night, hours after the
death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to call a vote for whomever President Donald Trump
nominated as her replacement
*Protesters gathered at his home Saturday to demonstrate against a SCOTUS pick
before November election
*Some demonstrators were seen holding placards outside his home that read, 'Ruth
sent us' and 'Ditch Mitch!'
Protesters gathered outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's home on
Saturday to demand he stop pushing forward with a new SCOTUS pick following the
death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
McConnell vowed on Friday night, hours after the death of Ginsburg, also known
as RBG, to call a vote for whomever President Donald Trump nominated as her
replacement. RBG died at the age of 87 Friday after a battle with pancreatic
The next day, a few dozen protesters arrived at his home to demonstrate against
a SCOTUS pick before the November 3 presidential election.
Some demonstrators were seen holding placards that read, 'Ruth sent us' and
Images from the protest showed officers arriving to the scene to disperse the
protesters who were seen crowding around a patrol car.
Following the incident, a fundraiser to defeat McConnell called 'Get Mitch or
Die Trying' was set up. As of Sunday morning, it has raised more than
The fundraiser is being led by ActBlue, a non-profit that funds progressive
groups. The money will be split among candidates in races in key swing states,
including Colorado, Maine, Iowa, Alabama, Michigan, Texas and Kansas.
Fulfilling the Supreme Court seat left vacant by Ginsburg's death before the
fall election is as much about McConnell's goal of securing a conservative
majority on the court for decades to come as it is about confirming Trump's
There's no guarantee the Kentucky Republican will succeed, but he is about to
move ahead with a jarring and politically risky strategy to try to bend his
majority in the Senate. If it works, he will have ushered three justices to the
court in four years, a historic feat.
'Sen McConnell already has played a huge role in shaping the Supreme Court for
decades to come,' said Edwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California,
Berkley School of Law. 'A third confirmation, especially under these
circumstances, would truly make this the McConnell Court for a long time to
The path for how, exactly, McConnell will make this happen is being set swiftly
in Washington. Many expect Trump to name his nominee in a matter of days and the
Senate to start the confirmation process - condensing a typically monthslong
endeavor into a matter of weeks.
During a campaign rally in North Carolina Saturday night, Trump declared: 'I
will be putting forth a nominee this week, it will be a woman.'
Trump claimed that his pick would be a 'very talented, very brilliant woman'
because 'I like women more than I like men'.
As he left the White House for the rally, the president identified two women as
front runners: Amy Coney Barrett, 48, of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and
Barbara Lagoa, 52, of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees.
Barrett is a devout Catholic and mother of seven from Indiana, who has adopted
two kids from Haiti and has a biological child with special needs.
She is a member of a Christian group named People of Praise, where members are
assigned a 'handmaiden', a personal adviser with whom they are encouraged to
confess personal sins, financial information and other sensitive disclosures.
The other named front runner is Lagoa, a Cuban American from Florida whose
parents fled Castro five decades ago. She has spoken about how her father longed
to be a lawyer but was forced to abandon his dream because of the communist
leader. Her nomination has the potential to greatly aid Trump politically in the
crucial swing state.
Voting in the Senate could happen before the election or it could spill into the
lame-duck period after the November 3 vote. Either strategy is a political
calculation for McConnell more than a substantive one.
For the longest serving Republican Senate leader in history, the course ahead
depends on what is best for the handful of GOP senators who face difficult
reelections in November and could make or break McConnell's slim majority. Sen.
Susan Collins in Maine wants no vote before the election. Others want swift
Conservative voters are expected to be energized by the prospect of a
right-leaning court, and McConnell must weigh whether the endangered senators
risk alienating them if they shy from a confirmation vote.
In their swing states, it's possible that senators like Cory Gardner up for
reelection in Colorado could fare worse if they rushed into a vote, upsetting
centrist and independent voters who prefer to stick to Senate norms.
For now, McConnell is eager to push ahead, willing to leave behind those
senators whose votes he can afford to lose. Sen Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska,
signaled hours before Ginsburg's death that it's too close to the election to
vote on a confirmation. She and Sen Mitt Romney, R-Utah, have been critical of
Trump and could be votes against the nominee.
With a narrow 53-seat majority in the 100-member Senate, McConnell can lose
three senators and still rely on Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie vote.
Republicans think the risks of pushing ahead are worth it.
'McConnell's got to thread the needle here, and I have no doubt he will,' said
Mike Davis, a former chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee. He now
runs an outside advocacy group for conservative judges and advises Republican
But the death of Justice Antonin Scalia hours before one of the early-state
presidential debates in February 2016 put McConnell on a course that will define
his decades-long career.
McConnell stunned Washington by announcing the Senate would wait for the next
president, after the November 2016 election, to choose Scalia's replacement,
blocking then-President Barack Obama's choice of Judge Merrick Garland.
McConnell had no rule or precedent to fall back on, but he had a majority so he
Once Trump became president, McConnell shocked Washington again by changing
Senate rules to allow for simple confirmation, by 51 votes, rather than the 60
traditionally needed to advance a nominee.
First the Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch in 2017. Then, with the retirement
of Justice Anthony Kennedy, senators confirmed Judge Brett Kavanaugh in 2018
after dramatic hearings and allegations that the nominee had sexually assaulted
Now McConnell, again through an exercise in majority power, is saying that the
standard he set in 2016 no longer applies because his party also controls the
Former Democratic Sen Harry Reid of Nevada, the onetime majority leader who
tangled fiercely with McConnell, was the first to change the Senate's voting
threshold on lower-level nominees out of Obama-era frustration with GOP
blockades. Reid warned Republican senators not to follow their leader down this
'If Republicans attempt to force yet another nominee onto the Supreme Court
against the will of the American people, then they risk delegitimizing
themselves and their party even more,' Reid said. He warned it would 'further
tear our country apart'.
But McConnell left no doubt where this was headed.
Absent a robust legislative agenda aligned with Trump, McConnell set out on the
Senate's other main role - confirmations. Along with the two Supreme Court
justices, he has installed more than 200 federal appellate and trial court
judges in the Trump era.
'Well, you don't get to write your own legacy,' he said during an AP Newsmakers
interview in 2018. 'But I will say that what we're doing in the area of the
court, I think, is the most important thing we're doing.
Asked in February by Fox News how he would approach a high court vacancy, now
that it was again an election year, he showed no hesitancy.
'Yeah, we would fill it,' McConnell said.