(CNN)Mourners of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gathered quietly at the Supreme Court Saturday, laying rows of flowers and writing chalk messages to honor the gender equality icon. But America was closely watching how the Republican machinations to replace her, already unfolding swiftly, will play out across the street at the Capitol and on the campaign trail.

Less than 24 hours after the death of the 87-year-old justice, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump were already engaged in a fierce pressure campaign to hold the Republican conference together and push a nominee through the Senate Judiciary Committee and full Senate process before the end of this year. Trump said Saturday he will have a nominee “very soon” to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court and thinks he’ll make his choice next week, adding that “most likely it would be a woman.”McConnell has been reaching out to moderate Republican senators to gauge their comfort level with that unusually fast timeline 45 days before Election Day, as Democrats pilloried his hypocrisy for blocking a vote on then-President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, in 2016 under the guise that American voters should have a say in an election year. Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Conversations: My closed-door sessions with GinsburgPhotos: Look back at Ginsburg’s life and careerVideo: Hear her most memorable speechesTributes: Mourners gather to pay their respectsOpinion: What Ginsburg taught men about women

Trump and GOP leaders are moving quickly on the vacancy, which presents an unexpected reprieve for Trump’s flagging campaign, potentially allowing the President to shift the public’s attention from his careless handling of a pandemic that has now killed nearly 200,000 Americans to his opportunity to solidify the court’s conservative majority for generations to come. Read MoreThe White House wants to announce Trump’s pick for the high court before his first debate with former Vice President Joe Biden on September 29, a Trump adviser close to the process told CNN earlier Saturday — a move they hope will fire up Republican base voters with early voting already underway. However, Trump’s allies have raised concern about naming a replacement before she has had a proper burial, two sources tell CNN.Several vulnerable Republican senators who could benefit from that burst of energy on the right have already said they will support confirming Trump’s nominee to the court this year, including Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Martha McSally of Arizona and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia. But Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who’s facing the closest reelection of her career and whose vote to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 turned off many Democrats and moderates, said Saturday that the Senate should not vote on a nominee from Trump before the election, saying, “we must act fairly and consistently—no matter which political party is in power.” She said she wouldn’t oppose the Judiciary Committee “beginning the process of reviewing his nominee’s credentials,” but that a Senate vote should wait “given the proximity of the presidential election.”As McConnell worked the phones this weekend, Trump made his own push to keep GOP senators in line with a tweet Saturday morning before he headed out for a campaign event in North Carolina: “[email protected] We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices,” he tweeted. “We have this obligation, without delay!” The urgency for the GOP is underscored by the fact that Trump is trailing Biden in the polls, creating the real possibility that their party could lose control of the Supreme Court vacancy if Trump loses the White House and Senate Republicans lose their majority in November. Here's how long it's taken to confirm past Supreme Court justicesHere's how long it's taken to confirm past Supreme Court justicesHere's how long it's taken to confirm past Supreme Court justicesRepublicans currently hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, meaning that McConnell can only lose three GOP senators in order to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence.A fundraising boon for DemocratsOn the other side of the aisle, Democratic groups and leaders are marshaling their forces and strategizing about the tools at their disposal to delay a vote on a replacement until after inauguration. During a call with Senate Democrats on Saturday, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the party’s chief priority in the short term is “to communicate the stakes of this Supreme Court fight to the American people,” a source on the call told CNN’s Manu Raju. “Let me be clear: if Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year,” Schumer said, alluding to institutional changes that Democrats could make, including doing away with the filibuster, if they win control of the Senate next year. “Nothing is off the table.”Political money flows as both parties gear up for Supreme Court fightPolitical money flows as both parties gear up for Supreme Court fightPolitical money flows as both parties gear up for Supreme Court fightGinsburg’s death from complications related to metastatic pancreatic cancer also drew a flood of donations to progressive groups. A spokesperson for the Democratic umbrella fundraising platform ActBlue said that between 9 p.m. ET on Friday — shortly after the news broke that Ginsburg had died — and 9 a.m. ET on Saturday, it had processed more than $30 million donations to Democratic candidates and causes.Noting the intransigence of Republican senators who refused to act on Obama’s nomination in March of 2016, Democrats were quickly making hypocrisy a central campaign issue in the races of GOP senators who have reversed course after blocking Garland and stated they will confirm Trump’s nominee before the end of the year. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, a Republican who is facing an unexpectedly strong challenge in his home state of South Carolina, was among the senators facing that charge, as well as Tillis and McConnell himself, who is being challenged in Kentucky by former Marine Corps fighter pilot Amy McGrath, a well-funded, if long-shot Democrat.’An incredibly energizing issue for conservatives’But the unexpected vacancy is also generating intense excitement among right-leaning voters, who see Trump’s opportunity to appoint a third justice to the bench as a long-awaited chance to cement the court’s conservative tilt with a 6-to-3 majority. Carrie Severino, who heads the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, said the “budget is whatever it takes” during an appearance on CNN Saturday, calling the vacancy an “incredibly energizing issue for conservatives.” “You saw that in 2016. Having a vacancy staring you in the face and Donald Trump with his list of nominees really, I think, changed the election,” she said. “People are no less excited about the Supreme Court in 2020.”That excitement could help Trump’s chances for reelection as well as many down-ballot GOP candidates around the country. Some Republican voters who disapproved of Trump’s handling of the pandemic may feel a sense of duty to turn out and support the President now that that the long-term balance of the court is at stake. The President’s decision to release a lengthy list of potential conservative nominees earlier this month — before there was any vacancy — had already accelerated the selection process to replace Ginsburg, who was appointed to the court by former President Bill Clinton in 1993.Many of the potential candidates on Trump’s list would inflame the political debate in the presidential race and more than a half-dozen Senate races that will determine which party controls that chamber in November.

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https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/19/politics/ginsburg-supreme-court-vacancy-fight/index.html

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