Washington — Vice President Mike Pence defended President Trump's push to confirm a new justice to the Supreme Court before Election Day, telling "CBS Evening News" anchor Norah O'Donnell that moving forward with a confirmation during an election year is not without precedent and the president has an "obligation" to put forth a nominee.
"President Trump believes that he has an obligation under the Constitution of the United States to put forward a nominee for the Supreme Court," Pence said.
Ginsburg died Friday at the age of 87 from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer, and Mr. Trump is urging the Senate to quickly take up his nominee, to be announced in the coming days. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged Mr. Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the Senate floor, and Senator Lindsey Graham, who leads the Judiciary Committee, told the panel's Democratic members Monday he believes it is "important that we proceed expeditiously to process any nomination made by President Trump to fill this vacancy."
While Senate Democrats have few procedural tools at their disposal to block Republicans' efforts to move forward with the confirmation process, they are urging their GOP colleagues to wait until after the inauguration before confirming a justice to fill Ginsburg' seat.
Democrats point to Republicans' decision in 2016 to block Judge Merrick Garland's confirmation to the Supreme Court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, as GOP senators argued at the time the American people should have a voice in selecting the president that will fill the vacancy.
But McConnell said the situation this year differs from that of 2016, as the same party now controls the White House and the Senate.
Mr. Trump told reporters he is considering five women to replace Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. His top contenders are Judges Amy Coney Barrett of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Barbara Lagoa of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Norah O'Donnell: You're saying that you have an agreement from the Senate majority leader to get a justice confirmed by Election Day?
Vice President Mike Pence: President Trump believes that he has an obligation under the Constitution of the United States to put forward a nominee for the Supreme Court.
There have been 29 times that there have been vacancies since George Washington through Barack Obama. In all 29 cases, the president has made a nomination to the Supreme Court during an election year. And President Trump believes that it's his responsibility and his duty to do that again.
The Senate's role is to advise and consent. And we're working already with the Republican leadership in the Senate to make arrangements for the process to move forward. But we believe, judging from history, I believe that Justice Ginsburg was confirmed within 43 days of her nomination, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in less time than that.