Trump Supreme Court Nominee May Start Senate Hearing Oct. 12

Senate Republicans are developing plans to begin confirmation hearings around Oct. 12 for President Donald Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, setting up a bitter partisan fight over the nomination before the November election.

The plan could lead to a final vote by the full Senate by the week of Oct. 26, according to people familiar with the process. But Democrats, who say Ginsburg’s seat should be determined by the winner of the November presidential election, could use procedural maneuvers to delay the process.

“Nothing official has been announced yet,” said Taylor Reidy, a spokeswoman for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Trump has said he will announce his nominee on Saturday. The president is currently leaning toward choosing Amy Coney Barrett, a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and favorite of religious conservatives, people familiar with the process have said.

“I have a pretty good idea. I haven’t made a final decision, but pretty good idea,” the president said Tuesday in an interview with WGN America.

Traditional Courtesy

The committee hearings could begin as soon as Oct. 8, but it’s more likely they will begin Oct. 12, two of the people familiar with the plans said.

The tentative GOP schedule doesn’t include time for Democrats to delay the committee vote by one week — a traditional courtesy afforded to the minority party. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democratic leader, said Tuesday his party intended to use that capability but added that it may be the only tool they have to delay.

Senate Republican leaders have said they expect Lindsey Graham, chair of the Judiciary Committee, to develop his schedule in consultation with Dianne Feinstein, the panel’s ranking Democrat.

Senator John Thune, the second-ranking GOP leader, said a majority of Republican senators want a vote before the election, but there are “differences” and no decision has been made. Graham has said repeatedly this week that he’s confident a vote will be held before Election Day.

Before the nomination fight kicks off, Trump plans to visit the Supreme Court on Thursday to “pay his respects” to Ginsburg, the White House said.

Ginsburg is lying in repose at the high court on Wednesday and Thursday, allowing the public to view her casket under the court’s front portico. On Friday, the pioneering justice will become the first woman ever to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.

— With assistance by Laura Litvan

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