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Senate GOP faces pivotal moment on pick for Supreme Court

Republicans will gather as a conference on Tuesday and for the first time discuss whether to speed forward with confirming a successor to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgGraham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Trump puts Supreme Court fight at center of Ohio rally The Memo: Dems face balancing act on SCOTUS fight MORE.

All signs suggest the GOP will move with speed to confirm a nominee before Election Day, a move that would upend the Senate and begin a new tumultuous era for the body.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE said Monday he would nominate a justice by Friday or Saturday, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Trump puts Supreme Court fight at center of Ohio rally The Memo: Dems face balancing act on SCOTUS fight MORE (R-Ky.) in a floor speech said there was “more than enough time” to confirm a nominee before the end of the year.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerJacobin editor: Primarying Schumer would force him to fight Trump's SCOTUS nominee CNN's Toobin: Democrats are 'wimps' who won't 'have the guts' to add Supreme Court seats Republican senator says plans to confirm justice before election 'completely consistent with the precedent' MORE (N.Y.) over the weekend said nothing is off the table if Republicans move to replace Ginsburg with a conservative justice before Election Day, just four years after the GOP blocked former President Obama’s nominee, Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandGraham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Trump puts Supreme Court fight at center of Ohio rally The Memo: Dems face balancing act on SCOTUS fight MORE, from getting even a hearing eight months ahead of an election.

Schumer’s threats have been widely interpreted as signals that Democrats would move to do away with the legislative filibuster or even seek to add justices to the Supreme Court if the GOP moves forward.

Only two GOP senators so far have indicated they do not think the Senate should vote on a Trump nominee before the election: Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGraham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Gardner signals support for taking up Supreme Court nominee this year Tumultuous court battle upends fight for Senate MORE of Maine and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGraham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Gardner signals support for taking up Supreme Court nominee this year Tumultuous court battle upends fight for Senate MORE of Alaska.

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGraham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Gardner signals support for taking up Supreme Court nominee this year Grassley, Ernst pledge to 'evaluate' Trump's Supreme Court nominee MORE (Utah), who voted to impeach Trump, said Monday evening that he wants to hear more from his colleagues Tuesday before commenting.

“Before I have any comment I’m going to meet with my colleagues, which I’ll be doing tomorrow,” he said. “Until then, I’m going to be waiting.”

But Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerGraham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Gardner signals support for taking up Supreme Court nominee this year Tumultuous court battle upends fight for Senate MORE (Colo.), who faces a difficult reelection race, indicated in a statement that he would vote on a Trump nominee.

“I have and will continue to support judicial nominees who will protect our Constitution, not legislate from the bench, and uphold the law,” Garnder said in a statement. “Should a qualified nominee who meets this criteria be put forward, I will vote to confirm.”

A majority of GOP senators support moving forward with a vote, with some arguing the high court needs its full complement of justices in case the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election are disputed, a possibility that senators view as increasingly likely.

“There are some arguments for why you don’t want to have a potential 4-4 split on the court, and I’m concerned about that too,” said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTumultuous court battle upends fight for Senate Texas Democrats roll out first wave of planned digital ads as Election Day nears Calls grow for Biden to expand election map in final sprint MORE (R-Texas).

Another argument is that voting before Election Day would do more to rev up conservative voters, who turned out in large numbers in swing states in the 2018 midterm elections shortly after Senate Republicans confirmed Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughGraham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Tumultuous court battle upends fight for Senate Fox's Napolitano: Supreme Court confirmation hearings will be 'World War III of political battles' MORE to the Supreme Court after a bitter confirmation fight.

Trump supporters chanted “fill that seat” at a campaign rally the president held in North Carolina on Saturday.

Conversely, filling the seat might dampen Democratic enthusiasm ahead of Election Day as there would no longer be a vacant Supreme Court seat on the line.

A third consideration is that many believe it would become much more challenging politically to confirm Trump’s nominee in a lame-duck session if the president loses reelection and Republicans lose control of the Senate.

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyRenewed focus on Trump's Supreme Court list after Ginsburg's death What Facebook's planned change to its terms of service means for the Section 230 debate Republican Senators raise concerns over Oracle-TikTok deal MORE (R-Mo.), a rising conservative star, said Monday that he wants to have the vote before Election Day and predicted some of his colleagues might become “less comfortable” about filling the seat in a lame-duck session.

“I think we have an obligation to act. The sooner that we do that, the better,” he said. “I think it’s better if we do it before Election Day than if we drag it out.”

Other GOP senators on Monday declined to speculate about the political implications of a Supreme Court confirmation vote in a lame-duck if Democrats win big on Election Day.

“That’s a hypothetical. I’m not going to go into that,” Senate Republican Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGraham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Tumultuous court battle upends fight for Senate What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies MORE (S.D.) said.

Republican senators and GOP aides say Trump’s nominee could receive a hearing, a committee vote and a floor vote in only a few weeks and that no steps will be skipped nor corners cut.

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntThis week: Supreme Court fight over Ginsburg's seat upends Congress's agenda McConnell locks down key GOP votes in Supreme Court fight Murkowski: Supreme Court nominee should not be taken up before election MORE (R-Mo.) said that while it would be a challenge to complete the confirmation process in 40 days or so, it would not be impossible.

“It would be the new recent world record,” he said, noting that Ginsburg was confirmed in 42 days. “We’d have to do more than we’ve done in a long time to get one done that quickly but it’s possible.

“I think it should take as long as it takes … at the same time, I don’t think we should drag it out,” he added.

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