The US president, Donald Trump’s determination to announce a Supreme Court Justice in replacement of late Ruth Bader Ginsburg is geared toward preparation for legal tussle that will follow the November election.
Trump, whose paranoia of losing the election has been noted in his baseless claims that the election will be rigged, appears to be counting on Supreme Court justices, in case he loses.
“You need nine justices. You need that,” he told reporters earlier in the week.
Trump has been vocal against mail-in voting, calling it fraud and a ploy to rig the election, even though there has been no basis for such claims.
“With the unsolicited millions of ballots that they’re sending, it’s a scam; it’s a hoax. Everybody knows that. And the Democrats know it better than anybody else. So you’re going to need nine justices up there. I think it’s going to be very important. Because what they’re doing is a hoax, with the ballots,” he said.
To reinforce his electoral fraud claims, Trump has said that he is not going to hand over without a fight, if he loses.
COVID-19 pandemic forced the United States’ election commission to use mail-in voting. This means that ballots will be sent to voters at home, but the majority of US states, 41 out of 50, will require voters to request an absentee ballot before one is mailed to them. For the remaining nine states, including Washington, ballots will be sent automatically to registered voters.
Trump said the unsolicited ballots will lead to widespread fraud, and consequently, the election winner will likely be determined by the Supreme Court. But contrary to his fraud claims, the nine states to receive automatic ballots had used it for voting earlier before COVID-19, and there was no report of fraud.
Following the death of Ginsburg, Trump said he won’t hesitate to announce her replacement, because it’s his constitutional duty. While democrats said such a move will throw the country into chaos, Trump brushed it off saying “I don’t think so.” He went further to explain why the appointment needs to be done now.
“So doing it before the election would be a very good thing because you’re going to probably see it, because what they’re doing is trying to sow confusion and everything else. And, you know, when they talk about Russia, China, and all these others, they will be able to do something here because paper ballots are very simple – whether they counterfeit them, forge them, do whatever you want. It’s a very serious problem,” Trump said.
Although the US intelligence has warned of potential meddling by foreign powers, including China and Russia, it didn’t say they are trying to counterfeit or forge ballots, since there is no evidence suggesting that.
It was reportedly Judge Ginsburg’s death wish that her replacement be made after the election, but that wish seems far from Trump’s consideration given that his political interest has gotten involved.
However, the move has been criticized as an attempt to compromise the neutrality of the Court. ABCNews noted that securing a nomination before Election Day will mean that the nominee will sit in judgment of a case relating to the outcome of the president’s election, and that will amount to politicization of the court.
Not minding Ginsburg’s wish or how politicized a hasty nomination would appear; Trump said he would announce a nominee on Saturday. The development has divided the US congress with the GOP in support of Trump and Democrats opposing him.
Republican senator, and a vocal critic of Trump, Mitt Romney said he will vote to endorse the nominee presented by Trump.
“The constitution gives the president the power to nominate and the Senate the authority to provide advice and consent on Supreme Court nominees. Accordingly, I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the president’s nominee. If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications,” Romney said.
On the other side of the Congress, a firestorm from the Democrats, led by their presidential nominee, Joe Biden is threatening to tear down the nomination. In support of Democrats, Trump’s opponent during the 2016 election, Hilary Clinton, called on voters to challenge the president’s “authoritarian” behavior by voting him out in November.
“The only remedy for this blatantly authoritarian behavior is for voters to turn out for Biden-Harris in such overwhelming numbers that Trump & the GOP can’t steal the election,” Clinton tweeted.
But Trump’s plan is to use the Supreme Court to remain in power even if he is overwhelmingly defeated.
“I think this will end up in the Supreme Court, and I think it’s very important that we have nine justices,” he said.
The current court is split evenly between the liberals and conservatives and Trump thinks a tied court could pose a problem, and adding one more judge to the eight will make the difference.
“I think it’s better if you go before the election because I think this scam that the Democrats are pulling, it’s a scam, this scam will be before the United States Supreme Court. And I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation. If you get that. I don’t know you’d get that. I think it should be eight-to-nothing or nine-to-nothing, but just in case it would be more political than it should be,” he said.
The 2000 Bush vs Gore Supreme Court case set a trajectory that Trump is walking on. A 5-4 voting by the Court against recounting disputed Florida votes saw Bush emerged winner. However, the ruling was considered partisan and a dent to the repute of the Supreme Court, which has Conservative justices in majority.
Trump said he is going to nominate a conservative female judge who respects the constitution. Ginsburg was a liberal, and people believe replacing her with a conservative is aimed at replicating the Bush vs Gore judgment.
With a host of Republicans rallying behind him, Trump is surely getting his nominee approved. What is not sure is if whoever replaces Ginsburg is going to recuse herself from the case or become partisan.