'Senate will approve Trump's Supreme Court pick this year'

Senate Majority Leader vows to bring President Trump's nominee to replace Justice Kennedy before new senators seated following midterms.

David Rosenberg ,

Justice Anthony Kennedy
Justice Anthony Kennedy

The United States Senate will vote on President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy during the Senate’s 2018 fall session, and will not wait until after the new senators elected in this November’s midterm elections are seated, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday following the release of Justice Kennedy’s letter of resignation, McConnell (R-Kentucky) said that the Senate would take immediate action on a nominee to fill the vacancy.

"The Senate stands ready to fulfill its constitutional role by offering advice and consent,” said McConnell. “We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor this fall.”

Kennedy’s resignation will take effect on July 31st, leaving the court with just nine justices.

While congressional Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) demanded the Senate reject any nominees until after the new senate is seated next January following this fall’s midterms, McConnell vowed that the president’s nominee would be put to a vote this year.

The move ensures that whomever the president selects to fill the vacancy will face a Republican majority, likely guaranteeing approval from the upper chamber.

Republicans currently hold 51 of the Senate’s 100 seats, as well as the Vice President’s tie-breaking vote in the case of a 50-50 split. Arizona Senator John McCain, one of the Senate’s 51 Republicans, is currently being treated for brain cancer, and has taken a reduced role in the Senate, possibly leaving the Republican Caucus with just 50 votes for the nomination.

President Trump said Wednesday he would begin “immediately” to select a nominee to fill the vacancy left by Justice Kennedy.

Nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1987 and approved by the Senate in 1988, Kennedy was the court’s most senior member following the death of Antonin Scalia in 2016.

Once considered a conservative voice on the court, following the resignation of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2006, Kennedy increasingly became a swing vote in the court, backing the court’s four other conservative justices on Second Amendment rights, freedom of speech issues related to campaign finance reform, and against the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, while also siding with the court’s progressive justices in LGBT issues and the detention of terror suspects during the Bush administration.