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Trump’s Rush to Fill Seat Draws Supreme Court Into Political Mire

Sep.20 -- President Donald Trump’s push to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is gaining traction already with the U.S. election being just weeks away. Bloomberg’s Greg Stohr reports on “Bloomberg Daybreak: Asia.”

Video Transcript

- So many facets to this. And we'll get to how, potentially, the political aspect could affect the credibility of the Supreme Court itself. But is it almost a certainty that a new justice will be rammed through before the election?

GREG STOHR: Not necessarily before the election. Certainly Republicans have the upper hand, but they also have the calendar working against them, and they have at least two Republican senators who have expressed reluctance to vote before the election. It's possible this would happen-- the actual Senate vote would not happen until after the election. But right now, it appears as though Republicans have the votes to ultimately get Donald Trump's nominee on the court.

- If the nomination is actually pushed through, how could Democrats react, and ultimately, what would it mean, also, for the legitimacy of the court?

GREG STOHR: Well, if they do get their nominee on the court, it would be a huge shift to the right for the court, really the biggest ideological shift for a single seat in 30 years or so.

And Democrats are going to come under renewed pressure to add seats to the courts. Some of them are already talking about that. It's something that Congress can do if Democrats take over the Senate. They have the votes. They have the White House. They would legally be able to do that. That would be an extraordinary step, but it would be something that people would call on them to do, the liberals are calling them to do, to counteract what they see as the unfairness of how Republicans have handled Supreme Court nominations in recent years.

- And we heard from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier on saying that one of the reasons why President Trump, she thinks, wants to push through this nomination so quickly is to use it to crush the Affordable Care Act. So how do we see that play out when it comes to policymaking? Because I think for our Asian viewers, it's important to note that this appointment, the lean of the Supreme Court, potentially has greater implications for US policymaking across so many different facets than even the outcome of the election in November.

GREG STOHR: Yeah, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the Affordable Care Act a week after the election. It certainly weakens the hand of supporters of the law not to have Ruth Bader Ginsburg on there. But you still have Chief Justice John Roberts, who voted to uphold the law back in 2012. And Justice Brett Kavanaugh, another one of the conservatives who could be the fifth vote, has suggested a lot of reluctance to strike down an entire federal statute just because one facet of it might be unconstitutional.

That's what this case is about. Republicans are saying the so-called individual mandate is now unconstitutional because of some tax changes that they pushed through, and they're trying to strike down the entire law. But even with a new justice on their side, they will probably have an uphill fight in getting the court to go that far.