WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump said yesterday that he is looking at four or five jurists to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the US Supreme Court and he will announce his nominee on Friday or Saturday.
Mr Trump pushed ahead with plans for his third US Supreme Court nomination, which would cement a 6-3 conservative majority, as some Republicans wavered on whether to support the move weeks before the Nov 3 election.
The Republican President said in an interview with Fox News that he wanted to wait out of respect for Justice Ginsburg, a champion of women's rights and a hero to the liberal left who died last Friday at age 87. "We should wait until the services are over for Justice Ginsburg," he said.
The death of the judge, a liberal icon, has upended the campaign season, giving Mr Trump and his party an opportunity to strengthen its grip on the court whose decisions influence most spheres of American life, from healthcare to gun rights to voting access.
Mr Trump said a vote on his Supreme Court nominee should come before the Nov 3 election.
"We won the election and we have the right to do so, we have plenty of time, a lot of time," Mr Trump told Fox. "The final vote should be taken frankly before the election. We have plenty of time for that."
Mr Trump's determination to quickly confirm a replacement for Justice Ginsburg comes at a time when Congress already has major issues on its agenda - including spending Bills to keep the government open past this week and a stalled coronavirus relief package to help millions of Americans left unemployed by the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Justice Ginsburg's admirers continued to flock to the Supreme Court building in Washington, where they left tributes to the woman who late in life came to be called the Notorious RBG by her fans.
The justice may lie in repose at the court for two days, with a ceremony there as early as today followed by an outdoor viewing.
Justice Ginsburg's death unleashed a wave of fundraising by both parties, particularly among liberals who poured forth US$100 million (S$136 million) through donation-processing site ActBlue by noon on Sunday. Mr Trump's campaign, meanwhile, began selling Fill That Seat T-shirts based on a chant at the President's campaign rally last Saturday night.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Sunday denounced Mr Trump's decision to move ahead with a nomination and appealed to the handful of moderate Senate Republicans to stop the President from making a lifetime appointment - one that would shift the balance of power on the US' highest court - without waiting to see the results of the election.
"To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power," Mr Biden said in a speech in Philadelphia. He noted that Republicans refused to even consider then President Barack Obama's nominee after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, citing the coming election 10 months later.
"I don't believe the people of this nation will stand for it... Trump has already made it clear this is about power, pure and simple."
If Mr Trump wins the race, Mr Biden said, then the Senate should consider his choice. "But if I win the election, President Trump's nomination should be withdrawn."
Mr Biden has pledged to nominate an African-American woman to the Supreme Court.
A new poll showed that the American public agrees with him and opposes Mr Trump's plan to rush a new justice onto the court.
Of those surveyed by Reuters and Ipsos since Justice Ginsburg's death, 62 per cent said her seat should be filled by the winner of the November election, including the vast majority of Democrats and even half of Republicans.