As Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s health wanes, it is becoming increasingly important to look at what would happen in the somber event she passes away prior to the 2020 Election. It is certain that Democrats will claim that there exists an unwritten rule that presidents should not nominate judges in the last year of their term. Does history support this claim, or is it just another democratic talking point swaying in the wind?
As you might imagine, a supreme court justice dying in the final year of a presidency is very rare. What happened when this situation did arise? Five times has a president running for reelection had the opportunity to nominate a justice to the nation’s highest court, and each time the President did just that. A Justice was nominated by both Herbert Hoover and William Howard Taft in their final year, as each lost in their respective elections. It was also done by Eisenhower, FDR and Woodrow Wilson, who all went on to win re-election. As history shows, President Trump would be following historical precedent if he were to make a Supreme Court nomination prior to 2020.
The classic ‘Trump is a threat to democracy’ narrative will undoubtedly be pushed by the media and their democratic companions should the President make such a move. This is especially true because Trump’s nomination, no matter how conservative he or she may be, will almost certainly be pushed through the senate. Republicans hold 53 strong Republican votes in the Senate, and only a simple majority (51 votes) is required to push it through.
With all of this in mind, it is important to start looking to who President Trump may nominate knowing that the senate will be on his side. One name thought to be high on Trump’s shortlist is Amy Coney Barrett of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, who was in heavy consideration for Justice Kavanaugh’s seat. She is considerably more conservative than Kavanaugh, but the Senate may lose some red seats in 2020, so a quick nomination and confirmation within the next calendar year is the GOP’s best shot at locking down a strong conservative like Barrett on the nation’s highest court.