US President Donald Trump said that he expected a nominee to replace late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be announced “next week”, and that it will “most likely” be a woman.
The President made the remarks to reporters on Saturday night as he walked out from the White House South Portico to depart for a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, reports Xinhua news agency.
“I could see most likely it would be a woman. If somebody were to ask me now, I would say that a woman would be in first place,” Trump said of his nominee.
“I think the choice will be next week,” he added.
Ginsburg, the second female Supreme Court justice in US history and a renowned jurist who championed for gender equality, died on Friday evening of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer.
Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, maintained that a nominee should be tapped by the new President chosen by voters in the November 3 election.
However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Trump’s nominee will get a vote in the Senate.
Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said on Saturday that given the proximity to the election, the Senate should not vote on the nominee prior to the election.
“I totally disagree with her,” Trump told reporters, referring to Collins’s statement.
“That’s not the next president – hopefully I’ll be the next president. We have an obligation to the voters and it’s a very simple thing,” he added.
Trump also called his shortlist of possible nominees “the greatest list ever assembled”.
Amy Coney Barrett, a federal appellate court judge, reportedly has been a front-runner to fill the vacancy.
“She’s very highly respected, I can say that,” Trump said in response to a question related to Barrett.
The death of Ginsburg, the leader of the liberal wing on the Supreme Court, reduced the number of liberal justices to three.
If a Trump nominee, his third during the presidency, is seated, it will swing the nine-member bench further to the conservative side, resulting in a 6-3 Republican majority.
While Republicans in the Senate changed the rules so that the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice now needs 51 votes rather than a super-majority, the slight 53-47 majority they hold in the Senate means they can only afford a maximum of three defections, a scenario where Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote will be needed to seat the new candidate.
In a tweet earlier on Saturday, Trump had said: “We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of US Supreme Court Justices.
“We have this obligation, without delay.”