Republicans are eyeing Oct. 12 as the target date for the start of confirmation hearings for Trump’s pick to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a source familiar with the process told Fox News.
President Trump is expected to announce Amy Coney Barrett, 48, on Saturday evening as his pick to fill the seat vacated last week by the liberal trailblazer -- a move that would shift the court to the right, and set up a fierce pre-election day confirmation fight.
Republicans have promised to fill the seat quickly and are expected to attempt to do so before Nov. 3. An Oct. 12 start, 16 days from Saturday would be in line with such a timeline. South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
There were 48 days between the nomination of Neil Gorsuch and his confirmation hearing in 2017, and 57 days between the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and his confirmation hearing.
While a 16-day gap would be short, there have been shorter. There were only 14 days between the nomination of Anthony Kennedy and his confirmation hearing in 1987. The shortest gap is the 11 days between the nomination of Warren Burger as chief justice and his hearing in 1969.
Senate Democrats are likely to seek to delay the confirmation as much as possible. They have furiously objected to a confirmation so close to the election, citing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland in 2016. But McConnell has said that it is a different situation as the White House and the Senate are not held by opposing parties.
Republicans appear to have the votes to move forward and confirm a Trump nominee.
So far, only Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have indicated they oppose moving forward with a confirmation before the election. Murkowski has since suggested she still may vote for the nominee.
But Republicans have 53 votes in the Senate, and can therefore afford three defections if no Democrat votes for the nominee. In that instance, Vice President Mike Pence would be called in to break a tie.
Fox News' Jon Decker contributed to this report.