President Donald Trump to announce Supreme Court nominee to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on Saturday

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Tuesday he will disclose his new nominee for the Supreme Court on Saturday, triggering an historic battle for the high court's future in the last six weeks of a presidential election.

“I’ve spoken to many (people) and we're getting close to a decision," Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a campaign stop in the Pittsburgh area.

The announcement is tentatively set for 5 p.m. EST on Saturday, the president said. Trump has said he will nominate a woman to fill the seat held by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday.

Trump did not offer hints, but he is expected to speak with one of his top candidates – appeals court judge Barbara Lagoa of Florida – on Friday, when he is in Miami, according to two advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity. 

On Monday, Trump met at the White House with another leading contender, Indiana-based appeals court judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Trump wants the Republican-run Senate to vote on his nominee by Election Day on Nov. 3. And top GOP lawmakers appear to have enough support to approve Trump's pick – a move that would consolidate conservative control of the court, perhaps for decades to come.

More: Trump met with Supreme Court frontrunner Amy Coney Barrett at White House on Monday

More: Donald Trump says he'll 'probably' announce Supreme Court pick by Saturday

"We've got the votes to confirm Justice Ginsburg's replacement before the election," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, speaking on Fox News.

In speaking with reporters Tuesday, Trump said it's important for the high court to have nine justices so that it can decide lawsuits that may arise from the presidential election; an eight-member court could have tie votes.

"You're going to need nine justices up there," said Trump, whose campaign is involved in litigation against mail-in voting systems in some states.

Trump said Monday he wanted hold off on naming his nominee until the end of the week, after a series of memorial services for Justice Ginsburg.

Senate Democrats have vowed to do what they can to block Trump's nominee, arguing the winner of the 2020 presidential election should have the right to make the lifetime appointment – an argument Republicans used when a high court vacancy occurred before the 2016 presidential contest and Barack Obama was in the White House.

If Trump's nominee gets through, Democrats have vowed retaliation should they win control of the Senate in November. Some lawmakers have talked about increasing the size of the Supreme Court and ending the right of the minority to filibuster legislation.

“I worry for the future of this chamber if the Republican majority proceeds down this dangerous path," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

More: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to lie in state at US Capitol Friday after two days at Supreme Court

More: Poll: Half of voters think the winner of the 2020 election should pick Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement

Trump said he is considering up to five women as potential replacements for Ginsburg, a feminist icon and legal pioneer for gender equality.

In addition to Barrett and Lagoa, other possibilities include Allison Rushing, a North Carolina-based judge on the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals; Kate Todd, who works in the White House counsel's office; and Judge Joan Larsen, an appeals court judge based in Michigan.

The Supreme Court vacancy has energized campaign donors across the political spectrum, particularly Democrats seeking to forestall a Trump-dominated court. Demand Justice, a Democratic group, has announced a $10 million ad campaign arguing that the winner of the presidential election should fill the seat.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative group, is financing an initial $2.2 million ad blitz in support of Trump's move to fill the vacancy. 

At a Trump rally Saturday in North Carolina, the crowd chanted, "Fill that seat!" That phrase adorns a T-shirt the Trump campaign is now selling on its website.

"I'm just doing my constitutional obligation," Trump told reporters Monday. "I have an obligation to do this so I would rather see it before the election."
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