Republican Senator Mitt Romney said he would support holding a Senate confirmation vote for President Trump’s US Supreme Court nominee, giving Mr Trump a crucial boost in his bid to install a conservative replacement for the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
- Mr Trump has said he plans to announce his nominee by the end of the week
- Democrats are protesting the Republicans’ rush to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, saying voters should speak first
- A Trump appointee would give the court a 6-3 conservative majority
“My decision regarding a Supreme Court nomination is not the result of a subjecting test of ‘fairness’ which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder,” Mr Romney said in a statement on Tuesday (local time).
“I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the President’s nominee.
Senator Romney’s announcement made it even more unlikely that Democrats will be able to block Senate confirmation of Mr Trump’s third appointment to the nine-member court.
Mr Trump has said he plans to announce his nominee by the end of the week.
While Senator Romney has criticised Mr Trump in the past, and even voted to remove him from office during the February impeachment trial, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee said he would support considering the President’s appointment this year, even with it being so close to the November 3 presidential election.
Democrats have said the Senate should wait until after voters decide whether to re-elect Mr Trump or choose his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
Republicans hold a 53-47 edge in the Senate, but two of them, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, have said the chamber should not move forward with a Trump nominee before the election.
But two more Republicans would have to oppose moving forward with confirmation in order for Democrats to be able to block it.
A Trump appointee would give the court a 6-3 conservative majority.
Senate Judiciary chairman Lindsey Graham who will shepherd the nomination through the chamber said Republicans have the votes they need for confirmation — even though no nominee has been announced.
“The nominee is going to be supported by every Republican in the Judiciary Committee,” he told Fox News late on Monday (local time).
“We’ve got the votes to confirm the justice on the floor of the Senate before the election and that’s what’s coming.”
The President met with conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett at the White House on Monday (local time) and told reporters he would interview other candidates and might meet with Judge Barbara Lagoa when he travels to Florida later this week.
Democrats are protesting the Republicans’ rush to replace Justice Ginsburg, saying voters should speak first, on Election Day, and the winner of the White House should fill the vacancy.