US President Donald Trump has said he would nominate a woman to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Immensely popular among Democrats, Ginsburg, 87, died of cancer on Friday, just weeks before the presidential election. Her death handed Trump, who is seeking re-election on November 3, the opportunity to expand its conservative majority to 6-3 at a time of a gaping political divide in the country.
Speaking at a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Saturday, Trump said, "I will be putting forth a nominee next week. It will be a woman."
"I think it should be a woman because I actually like women much more than men."
He also took an spontaneous poll from the crowd, asking them to cheer for either a woman or a man for the position, with the crowd cheering significantly louder for the former.
"That's a very accurate poll because that's the way I feel. It will be a woman. A very talented, very brilliant woman, who I haven't chosen yet -- but we have numerous women on the list."
The president has already named Amy Coney Barrett of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees for a lifetime appointment to the highest US court. They are both conservatives who would tip the balance of the Supreme Court in favor of Republicans.
This new one would be Trump’s third appointment during his tenure as president.
Any nomination would need to be approved by a simple majority in the Senate, where Trump’s Republicans hold a 53-47 majority.
However, not all Republican senators supported Trump’s move. Maine’s Susan Collins on Saturday said a nomination should wait until after the November election is held.
“In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd,” Collins said in a statement.
Earlier, Trump said that he had an “obligation” to act without delay.
“We have an obligation. We won and we have an obligation as the winners to pick who we want. That’s not the next president. We’re here right now.”
Democrats, however, have opposed any nomination before the election, asserting that Senate Republicans blocked Democratic President Barack Obama's choice for the US top court in 2016.
Trump is currently lagging in the polls behind his Democratic rival Joe Biden, who also said that "the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider."
Meanwhile, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer told party members Saturday that if Republicans press ahead, then "nothing is off the table." He said, "This vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."