ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT
By Servet Gunerigok
WASHINGTON (AA) - US President Donald Trump said Tuesday he will name a nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court this weekend.
"I will be announcing my Supreme Court Nominee on Saturday, at the White House! Exact time TBA," Trump said on Twitter.
Ginsburg died Friday of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer. Her death has set off a bitter fight as Democrats push to ensure the former leader of the liberal wing of the Supreme Court is not replaced by another conservative Trump nominee.
Trump said Monday his nominee, whom he has committed to being a woman, should receive a full Senate vote before the Nov. 3 presidential election.
He has publicly named three of five candidates he is considering, including Appeal Court Judges Barbara Lagoa, Amy Coney Barrett and Allison Jones Rushing.
The judges are some of the youngest potential nominees. Rushing is 38, Barrett is 48 and Logoa is 52.
Even though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in 2016 that Supreme Court vacancies should not be filled during an election year -- a bid then to prevent former President Barack Obama from appointing a replacement for conservative justice Antonio Scalia who died in February of that year -- he has since reneged on the statement.
Obama formally nominated Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland to replace Scalia, but McConnell said it would be inappropriate to confirm him while the American people were about to vote on the president's successor.
The Senate, under McConnell, took no action on Garland and his nomination expired Jan. 3, 2017 with the end of the 114th Congress, 293 days after it had been submitted to the Senate.
Following Ginsburg's death, the majority leader vowed to fill the seat quickly even as Republican senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have broken ranks, agreeing with Democrats that a nominee should not receive a vote until a president is elected in November.
Democrats would need to have two more Republican senators announce opposition if they are to successfully thwart a potential Trump nominee in the 100-seat Senate, which has a 53-47 Republican advantage.
But that does not appear possible after Senator Mitt Romney announced Tuesday he supports filling Ginsburg's seat before Election Day.
"I came down on the side of the Constitution and precedent as I've studied it, and made the decision on that basis," he told reporters at the Capitol. "I recognize that we may have a court, which has more of a conservative bent than it's had over the last few decades, but my liberal friends have over many decades gotten very used to the idea of having a liberal court, and that's not written in the stars."
Most eyes were on Romney as a possible Republican defector, and it unclear if any besides Murkowski and Collins will oppose a Trump Supreme Court nominee.
Prior to Romney's announcement, Lindsey Graham, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, said the Republican caucus has the votes to confirm the looming Trump nominee.
"We're going to move forward in the committee, we're going to report the nomination out of the committee to the floor of the United States Senate so we can vote before the election. Now, that's the constitutional process," he said during a Fox News interview.
*Michael Hernandez contributed to this report from Washington