Donald Trump got picked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to succeed John Roberts after a heated 2016 campaign for President Trump. In less than two months, a Republican nominee will be sworn in to take over for Roberts, who has since retired at the age of 78.
Others candidates are expected to arrive on Capitol Hill soon and lobby for a spot in the upper court for Trump.
On the Republican side, Senator Orrin Hatch is expected to step up his fundraising to support a SCOTUS vacancy appointment, although the Utah Republican himself is not committed.
The Democratic Party is working toward cementing a strong minority in the Supreme Court and replacing Roberts with a conservative.
Obama’s choices to head the nation’s high court had been viewed as too conservative and liberal but after the vacancy took place, the 2016 election revealed that both the president and senators had lost faith in Democrats’ ability to balance the country’s best interests.
With Republicans more than 90 electoral votes, there are likely to be few surprises in selecting their nominee, according to Princeton University law professor Mark Tushnet. A primary challenger or longtime activist would only force the nation’s supreme court to reevaluate cases and the justices could quickly take action in their own right.
Then there are the current vacancies in the Democratic and Republican blocks on the court.
“The Republican candidates don’t have to suffer any intransigence from President Trump, but are he willing to talk to the candidates the Democratic candidates might have?” Tushnet said.
On the Democratic side, Senator Elizabeth Warren could play a major role. The Massachusetts Democrat often speaks out on behalf of liberal causes, including her public endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s run for the 2016 presidency. Warren has received criticism for a letter she authored calling for stricter gun controls.
Warren has long been a thorn in the side of Republicans because of her willingness to raise money to aid their campaigns, although the $3 million she has collected for her Senate campaign so far is less than anyone else running.
Republicans may also consider selecting two of Roberts’ closest Supreme Court allies: Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Thomas Hardiman. Both men believe in limiting the limits to legal opinions issued by conservative justices.