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VERIFY: Yes, the president can nominate a replacement for RBG before the end of his term

There's now a vacant justice seat on the Supreme Court. Can it be filled before the November election?

WASHINGTON — There are a lot of questions on social media about what happens to Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s seat on the Supreme Court, following the news that the justice had died at the age of 87.

The Verify team took a look at what’s true and what’s false. 

RELATED: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dead at 87


The Constitution

Kim Wehle, constitutional law expert  

John Fortier, director of governmental studies at the Bipartisan Policy Center.  


Can President Trump nominate a replacement before the end of his term?

Answer: Yes

According to Section 2 of the Constitution, only the president has the authority to appoint Supreme Court justices. Our sources tell us the Constitution does not have a timeline for nominating a new justice.

"An average Supreme Court nomination often takes about 70 days to get through committee to the floor," Fortier said. "And that certainly puts us late in the year, but there is enough time to get a Supreme Court nomination through in 2020."

RELATED: Who will replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Supreme Court? Here's Donald Trump's list

Credit: WUSA9
Ruth Bader Ginsburg sat on the nation's highest court 1993 to 2020.


Is it likely the Senate will confirm President Trump's nominee?

Answer: Yes

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement shortly after the news of Ginsburg passing saying: “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.” 

RELATED: Trump Supreme Court nominee will receive vote by full Senate, McConnell says

"The Senate Majority Leader, pursuant to internal long-standing Senate rules, basically functions as a veto or as a pass-through," Wehle said.


Is there a precedent for confirming a Supreme Court justice this close to an election? 

Answer: Yes

"Most recently, Republicans refused to confirm an Obama appointee after the death of Justice Scalia," Fortier said. "And there have been a couple of other cases like that later in the term. The difference being that the Senate was controlled, of course, by the opposite party.'

RELATED: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's 'most fervent wish' about filling her Supreme Court seat

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