President Donald Trump is infusing deliberations over his coming nomination of a new Supreme Court justice with political meaning as he aims to maximize the benefit before Nov. 3 and even secure an electoral backstop should the result be contested.
Even before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last week, the president had tried to use likelihood of more Supreme Court vacancies to his political advantage. Now, as he closes in on a decision on her likely replacement, Trump has used the vacancy to appeal to battleground-state voters and as a rallying cry for his conservative base.
He also is increasingly embracing the high court — which he will have had an outsized hand in reshaping -– as an insurance policy in a close election.
Increases in mail, absentee and early voting brought about by the pandemic have already brought about a flurry of election litigation, and both Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden have assembled armies of lawyers to continue the fight once vote-counting begins. Trump has been open about tying his push to name a third justice to the court to a potentially drawn-out court fight to determine who will be sworn in on Jan. 20, 2021.