Trump announces Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court nominee

Hearings could start in early October

President Donald Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his U.S. Supreme Court pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Trump made the announcement Saturday from the White House.

Ginsburg died Sept. 18 at age 87, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Her death left a vacancy on the nation’s highest court, and has set off another fierce political battle with only weeks before Americans reelect Trump to another term or replace him with Democrat Joe Biden.

Biden and his fellow Democrats have been protesting GOP efforts to replace Ginsburg so close to the November presidential election, saying voters should speak first on Election Day, and the winner of the White House should fill the vacancy. No court nominee in U.S. history has been considered so close to a presidential election.

Democrats are accusing Republicans of hypocrisy after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in 2016, led the GOP in refusing to vote on a nominee of President Barack Obama before that year’s election. Biden is appealing to GOP senators to “uphold your constitutional duty, your conscience” and wait until after the election.

However, earlier this week, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said he favors a Senate vote on Trump’s nominee, all but assuring Trump and his party have enough support needed to push the nomination over Democratic objections that it’s too close to the November election.

“I guess we have all the votes we’re going to need,” Trump told WJBX FOX 2 in Detroit on Tuesday, “I think it’s going to happen.”

Republicans hold a slim 53-47 majority in the Senate, and a simple majority is needed for confirmation. But with early voting for president already underway in several states, all sides are girding for a wrenching Senate battle.

Romney backed up his decision by saying it’s not “written in the stars” that the court should have a liberal bent, and Trump’s pick will tip the nation’s high court to become more conservative.

It’s “appropriate,” he told reporters at the Capitol, “for a nation which is, if you will, center right, to have a court which reflects a set of right points of view.”

Ginsburg lay in state at the U.S. Capitol earlier this week, the first woman ever accorded that honor.

Trump and other GOP leaders have launched one of the quickest confirmation processes in modern times. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, who will shepherd the nomination through the chamber, said Republicans have the support they need. Hearings could start in early October, aides said.

“The nominee is going to be supported by every Republican in the Judiciary Committee,” Graham, who faces his own reelection in South Carolina, told Fox News. “We’ve got the votes to confirm the justice on the floor of the Senate before the election and that’s what’s coming.”

With just over a month before the election, McConnell said the Senate has “more than sufficient time.”

No nominee has won confirmation so quickly since Sandra Day O’Connor — with no opposition from either party — became the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court in 1981.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.