Trump says Supreme Court will need nine justices to decide 2020 election

President Trump on Wednesday said Republicans must swiftly approve his nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because the Nov. 3 election is likely to be resolved by the Supreme Court.

Trump said the mass distribution of mail-in ballots amid the COVID-19 pandemic probably will result in a legal battle that justices will decide.

“I think this scam that the Democrats are pulling — it’s a scam. This scam will be before the United States Supreme Court and I think having the four-four situation is not a good situation if you get that,” Trump told reporters during an event in the White House Cabinet Room.

“I don’t know that you’d get that. I think it should be eight-nothing or nine-nothing. But just in case it would be more political that is should be, I think it’s very important to have a ninth justice.”

A bitter court battle is widely feared in Washington with Republicans alleging possible fraud with mail-in ballots and warning of high ballot rejection rates, as seen in primary contests.

A five-four ruling decided the 2000 election with the court’s five more conservative justices halting a recount of Florida ballots, delivering victory to Republican George W. Bush.

“I think this will end up in the Supreme Court. And I think it’s very important that we have nine justices,” Trump said.

Trump on Tuesday said that he’s announcing a conservative replacement to the liberal icon at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to swiftly consider the person before the Nov. 3 election. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Tuesday he supports holding a vote on Trump’s pick — all but ensuring their confirmation.

Donald Trump
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he doesn’t think the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) even needs to hold hearing.

“From what I heard, he doesn’t even have to hold a hearing, he wouldn’t have to hold a hearing. He’s going to, I would think. But he wouldn’t even actually have to hold one,’ Trump said.

“And you know, most of these people are young and they just went through the process. You know, many of them just went through the process recently. so it’s not like, ‘Gee, let’s look at papers that are 15 years old.’ No, I think the process is going to go very quickly.”

Trump said this week he’s considering five women to replace Ginsburg, including federal appeals court Judges Amy Coney Barrett, 48, and Barbara Lagoa, 52.

Trump met with Barrett, a judge on the Chicago-based US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, on Monday at the White House and said afterward he may meet with Lagoa during a trip to Miami on Friday. Lagoa is a judge on the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit.

Barrett was considered in 2018 for the nomination given to Brett Kavanaugh and already faces criticism from Democrats for her religiosity. She is well-known to DC Republicans and considered likely to cement an ideological shift on the court.

Lagoa is a Cuban-American favorite among Florida Republicans who argue her selection could rally Latinos behind the president ahead of the election.