Donald Trump on Sunday refined the choice of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's successor to the Supreme Court, decided to anchor this institution in the conservative camp before the presidential election, despite the reluctance within his party.
Two Republican senators have already announced that they will refuse to fill this post, endowed with enormous powers, before the ballot, which singularly complicates the equation for the president.
Campaigning for his re-election, Donald Trump has promised that he would quickly name “a very talented woman” to replace judge “RBG”, a feminist and progressive icon, who died Friday at 87 years of age from cancer.
To galvanize the religious right, he had already published a preselection of magistrates sharing their values on abortion, the right to bear arms or even religious freedoms.
He has now “tightened the list” of candidates and will “very quickly” make his choice known, Marc Short, Chief of Staff to Vice President Mike Pence, said on CNN Sunday.
Two names are circulating with insistence to join the eight judges of the high court.
The first is that of Amy Coney Barrett, a 48-year-old Catholic who has a long academic career. She is renowned for her articles on legal doctrine, largely influenced, according to her detractors, by her traditionalist religious values.
A magistrate of Cuban origin Barbara Lagoa, 52, also seems well placed. A former Florida Supreme Court judge, she now practices in a federal appeals court in Atlanta. It has the advantage of coming from a key state, likely to influence the outcome of the presidential election.
“Losing your faith”
Once Donald Trump has made his choice known, he will come back to the Senate, where the Republican Party has 53 out of 100 seats, to confirm it.
Their leader Mitch McConnell has previously said he would organize a vote, even though he refused to do so for a candidate put forward by Democratic President Barack Obama in 2016, on the grounds that the poll was too close.
Democrats strongly criticized him for this turnaround.
“It looks like Senator McConnell has lost his faith in the judgment of Americans,” former Democratic President Bill Clinton criticized CNN, calling him “hypocrisy.”
For him, the bet is dangerous and places some Republican senators in a delicate position. “We will see what people think” of the candidates running for re-election “who clearly do the opposite of what they said before”.
“Out of honesty to the American people,” the moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins, who is leading a difficult campaign, said on Saturday that it would be necessary to wait for the verdict of the ballot box before filling the vacant seat.
On Sunday her colleague Lisa Murkowski in turn let it be known that she would not vote for a post at the Supreme Court “so close to the elections”.
“We need an entire Court for polling day,” said Senator Ted Cruz, an ultraconservative, on the contrary, recalling that the Court could have to settle electoral disputes. But he had to admit that he was not sure his party had the necessary votes.
“Strings to his bow”
If two other Republican senators defect, Donald Trump's candidate will be blocked.
The battle to convince the potential pivots therefore promises to be fierce.
Since the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, millions of dollars have been raised by progressive groups who plan to run targeted campaigns in the most contested constituencies.
Democrats don't have many legal weapons to prevent this appointment, however. Asked about this on ABC, their leader in Congress, Nancy Pelosi, assured to have “strings to its bow”, without wanting to give details.
“The stakes are huge,” she said, stressing that the Supreme Court is notably supposed to rule in the coming months on the future of the reform of the health insurance known as Obamacare, which has extended the coverage. illnesses of millions of Americans, but which Republicans want to dismantle.
“I think you have to stay very calm,” she continued. And above all, she added, “everyone must go and vote”.