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The battle to fill the the Supreme Court vacancy

Yahoo Finance Editor-in-chief Andy Serwer, along with HuffPost Washington Bureau Chief Amanda Terkel and Yahoo News Editor-in-Chief Dan Klaidman, break down the emerging battle between Republicans and Democrats to fill the Supreme Court vacancy in the wake of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's passing.

Video Transcript


ANDY SERWER: Hello and welcome. I'm Andy Serwer, editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance, and I'd love to welcome you to our first Election 2020 Special, presented to you in conjunction with "Huff Post" and "Yahoo News." Well, we're 42 days away from the end of voting, I guess what we used to call Election Day. And in the weeks between now and then, we will be exploring things like the impact of the coronavirus across American society, the economic upheaval that the virus has brought, and how the movement for social justice has changed the conversation on the campaign trail. But today, we are focused on the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the future of the Supreme Court, her legacy, and the battle to replace her.

I'm joined today, as I will be each week, by my co-host, "Yahoo News" Editor-in-Chief Dan Klaidman and "Huff Post" Washington Bureau Chief Amanda Terkel. Good to be with both of you.

DAN KLAIDMAN: Good to be with you, Andy.


ANDY SERWER: Let's start with the front-and-center question-- and Amanda, I'll go to you first-- which is how has the passing of RBG changed the campaign?

AMANDA TERKEL: I mean, just when you thought 2020 and the campaign couldn't get any crazier, you throw this Supreme Court battle right into the mix in the final weeks. I mean, you know, in some ways, you know, I think the coronavirus is still going to be the main issue. But this also just sort of, you know, underscores the intensity around this election. You now have Democrats saying that they are more motivated than ever to make sure that Biden wins, you know, whether it's to try to stop Republicans from pushing through a nominee in a lame-duck session, trying to push Biden to add more justices to the Supreme Court, maybe some other structural reform.

And you have conservatives too who say, you know, this is-- also shows the importance of keeping the presidency because look how much Trump has been able to do in getting conservative nominees to the court. And you know, this RBG nomination shows that. So you know, you just have so many possibilities of ways this could affect it, including is there going to be a contested election that could go to the Supreme Court? And now this looks pretty good for Trump if that happens.

ANDY SERWER: Dan, what about you on that top question?

DAN KLAIDMAN: Well, first of all, Amanda's right. This is-- there's no question that this nomination, this vacancy has fired up voters on both sides. I think the short answer is we don't know yet for sure the extent to which this is going to have an impact on the presidential election. You know, one thing, Supreme Court nominations usually get activists in both parties and the bases really excited. One thing we do know about this election is that the bases of this party-- of both of these parties-- are as fired up as we've ever seen them. So it remains to be seen whether this will have a real impact on voters.

You know, swing voters are not necessarily going to be as swayed by something like this as the activists in the party would be. And the early indications from the polling is that so far, this has not changed much. But I-- you know, it is still early. There'll be a lot more data that will come in.

You know, one thing that I was really struck by yesterday was Joe Biden was in Wisconsin talking, giving a speech. He spoke for 30 minutes. He did not mention the nomination and not a word. He didn't even mention Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And to me, that suggests that he understands that this is a big issue in Washington. It is a big issue for some parts of the parties, but it is not necessarily going to sway the parties. And he wants to say focused on coronavirus, which is where he will be stronger.

AMANDA TERKEL: Andy, we've been talking about the presidential race, but you know, I think one area where it will affect the election is in these Senate races. You have people like Susan Collins, who obviously took a lot of heat after she voted for Brett Kavanaugh.

You have other endangered Republican senators-- Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Cory Gardner in Colorado and some others. They are going to be feeling a ton of pressure because they're in these states that are a little bit more moderate. They want to sometimes show their distance from Trump. And so how this will affect the Senate races and whether it will, I think that is perhaps a more interesting story.

DAN KLAIDMAN: Yeah, I totally agree. Just to make one very quick point on this, Andy, which is that there are also-- there's also a Democrat, Doug Jones in Alabama, in a very conservative state. And he is clearly-- he was already an underdog. But if he is forced to vote against a Trump nominee, that could be the death knell for him. To the contrary, there's someone like Steve Daines, the incumbent senator in Montana, the Republican, who is going to be talking about this nomination over and over again because it ties him to Trump, and it's going to help him with voters in Montana.

ANDY SERWER: And speaking of President Trump, I mean, he weighed in on this, Dan, obviously, already. Here's what he had to say just the other day about this particular issue.

DONALD TRUMP: We won, and we have an obligation as the winners to pick who we want. That's not the next president. Hopefully I'll be the next president. But we're here now.

ANDY SERWER: Yeah, here now, indeed. And it's-- I think it's intriguing, just to go back to the Senate race, Amanda-- the Senate races, I should say, and the senators I should say, actually, more precisely-- were you surprised that Mitt Romney came out in support of doing a vote?

AMANDA TERKEL: No, not at all. I mean, Mitt Romney, sometimes he-- you know, Mitt Romney is anti-Trump, and he doesn't like Donald Trump that much. And so sometimes, he's sort of branded this resistance and Democrats like him, until he becomes what he is again, a conservative Republican.

You know, Republicans-- many Republicans like having Trump in office simply because he has done what is most important to them, which is push through conservative nominees. And so it is not at all surprising that Mitt Romney, a solid Republican, is excited that another conservative justice will be able to be on the Supreme Court.