SCOTUS battle reshapes 2020 election

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:58 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020
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7:33 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

The President is "anxious to move the process forward," Pence says about SCOTUS pick

From CNN's Daniella Diaz

Vice President Mike Pence speaks as President Donald Trump participates in a signing ceremony and meeting with the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic and the Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti in the Oval Office of the White House on September 4 in Washington.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks as President Donald Trump participates in a signing ceremony and meeting with the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic and the Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti in the Oval Office of the White House on September 4 in Washington. Anna Moneymaker/Pool/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence told CBS' Norah O'Donnell that President Trump "is anxious to move the process forward" on nominating a justice to the Supreme Court.

"We join the nation in mourning the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She paved the way for women in the law, but I know the President is anxious to move the process forward and we fully expect to make an announcement about the President's nominee to the Supreme Court before the week is out," he said.

When asked whether Trump wants his choice confirmed to the Supreme Court before Election Day in case the results go to the court, Pence said that is one reason why there should be nine justices in November.

"In the event that questions – either regarding mail-in voting or regarding the outcome of the election go to the Supreme Court – it's just one more reason why we owe it to the American people that we owe it to all the institutions of government to ensure that we have nine justices on the Supreme Court of the United States," he said.

On whether Trump is interested in Judge Amy Coney Barrett as a nominee for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, Pence said, "I just know that Judge Barrett will follow the Constitution, as will all the finalists."

7:36 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Plaintiff in same-sex marriage case: Ginsburg's legacy is all about equality under the law

Plaintiff Jim Obergefell holds a photo of his late husband John Arthur as he speaks to members of the media after the US Supreme Court handed down a ruling regarding same-sex marriage June 26, 2015 outside the Supreme Court in Washington.
Plaintiff Jim Obergefell holds a photo of his late husband John Arthur as he speaks to members of the media after the US Supreme Court handed down a ruling regarding same-sex marriage June 26, 2015 outside the Supreme Court in Washington. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage in the United States, said filling Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seat should not be political, adding the country did not have a chance to mourn her death.

"The fact that McConnell issues that statement shortly after it was announced, he isn't giving her the chance to be honored and to be remembered and to be respected," he told CNN on Monday, referring to a comments by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that President Trump's nominee would get a vote.

Obergefell added that McConnell's statement turned the search for a new Supreme Court justice into "a political fight, which it should not be."

In 2015, it was Ginsburg who led the liberal block of the court as it voted in favor of same-sex marriage with the critical fifth vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Obergefell said he is "more concerned about marriage equality as well as other issues of equality for all marginalized groups" without Ginsburg on the court.

"If Trump is able to nominate and have a judge confirmed, I am very concerned about our rights taken away and other rights being denied under a newly, very conservative court," he said.

Obergefell said Ginsburg's legacy was that she was a champion for equality.

"Her legacy is all about dignity and equality under the law and I can't think of a better legacy for a Supreme Court justice to have," he said.

"She also understood that the Constitution is a living, breathing document" and that it has to change as society adapted and people learned more about each other, he said.

Some background about the case: Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the case, married his spouse John Arthur in 2013 months before Arthur died.

The couple, who lived in Ohio, had to travel to Maryland aboard a medical jet to get married when Arthur became gravely ill. And when Arthur died, Obergefell began to fight to be recognized as Arthur's spouse on his death certificate.

"We wanted our relationship, our marriage to exist," Obergefell told CNN.

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7:08 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Trump polls rally crowd on if he should pick a man or woman for SCOTUS

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal 

President Donald Trump salutes before a rally at Dayton International Airport in Dayton, Ohio, on September 21.
President Donald Trump salutes before a rally at Dayton International Airport in Dayton, Ohio, on September 21. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump took a bizarre poll of the crowd at a rally near Dayton, Ohio, asking his audience if they’d like to see a man or a woman appointed to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“We’re working very hard at getting a third Supreme Court justice,” Trump told the crowd. “The only thing I’ll say for the women: it will be a woman.”

“Uh oh,” Trump said with a smile, pointing to something. It’s not clear if he was actually responding to anything. “There are a lot of angry people.”

The President continued, telling the crowd, “Okay here’s a question. Okay. It will be a woman, does anybody here, please raise your hand if you have the courage, is there anybody here that insists that it will be and should be a man?”

Turning it into a game, he asked, “who would like to see a woman justice of the Supreme Court?”

He paused for applause. “Who would like to see a male justice of the Supreme Court?”

“The only one I hear there is women. Some women. What’s that all about?” Trump responded to the people cheering for a male pick.

He then assured the crowd that, “It will be a woman. It will be a woman,” adding, “it’s a big day for our country, it’s a big day for you.”

6:18 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Ginsburg will be the first woman to lie in state at US Capitol

From CNN's Ali Zaslav

Late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will become the first woman in history to lie in state in the US Capitol, according to congressional historians.

Additionally, Ginsburg will be only the second Supreme Court Justice to lie in state since President William Howard Taft.

Rosa Parks was the first woman to lie in honor in the Rotunda of the US Capitol in 2005.

The architect of the Capitol notes on its website that in the case of government officials and military officers, "The Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol has been considered the most suitable place for the nation to pay final tribute to its most eminent citizens by having their remains lay in state." 

When a private citizen such as Parks is paid the tribute, the ceremony is called lying in honor. 

When lying in state, five guards of honor, each representing the five branches of the Armed Forces, will stand watch over the remains.

For recipients who have been designated to lie in honor, the United States Capitol Police instead act as civilian guards of honor, the website notes.

Ginsburg will lie in state on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced earlier Monday.

8:58 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Judge rules Wisconsin mail-in ballots can be received by Nov. 9

From CNN's Marshall Cohen and Ross Levitt

A postal worker empties a box near the Fiserv Forum on Tuesday, Aug. 18, in Milwaukee.
A postal worker empties a box near the Fiserv Forum on Tuesday, Aug. 18, in Milwaukee. Morry Gash/AP

In a victory for Democrats, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled that mail-in ballots can be received by Nov. 9, six days after Election Day, provided they are postmarked by Nov. 3.

“…the court concludes that plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success in demonstrating the risk of disenfranchisement of thousands of Wisconsin voters due to the election day receipt deadline outweighs any state interest during this pandemic. Accordingly, the court will grant this request, extending the receipt deadline for absentee ballots until November 9, 2020, but requiring that the ballots be mailed and postmarked on or before election day, November 3, 2020.” Judge William Conley wrote. 

The ruling comes after Democrats won similar victories in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where postmark deadlines have also been extended. Taken together, if the rulings stand, they ensure that tens of thousands of ballots that would’ve been rejected due to lateness will end up getting counted.

It’s one of several changes that are included in the ruling. 

The ruling also gives voters one more week to register to vote, pushing the deadline from Oct. 14 to Oct. 21 and allows voters to receive replacement ballots from Oct. 22 to Oct. 29 for those who requested ballots but did not receive them.

The ruling also allows election officials to be residents of other counties within Wisconsin.

The judge stayed the ruling for one week to give Republicans time to appeal. “NO voter can depend on any extension of deadlines for electronic and mail-in registration and for receipt of absentee ballots unless finally upheld on appeal. In the meantime, lest they effectively lose their right to do so by the vagaries of COVID-19, mail processing or other, unforeseen developments leading up to the November election, the court joins the WEC in urging especially new Wisconsin voters to register by mail on or before October 14, 2020, and all voters to do so by absentee ballot as soon as possible,” Conley cautioned.

Democrats have said they want postmark deadlines extended to ensure more voters’ ballots are counted. But the later deadlines also inject more uncertainty into an already fragile post-election process. They could complicate efforts by news organizations to promptly project winners – because the pool of possible eligible votes will continue growing for several days after the polls close.

Farbod Faraji, counsel for Protect Democracy, said, "the court's decision is a significant step toward ensuring that our democracy does not slide even further into peril.

"This decision will help ensure that Wisconsinites can exercise their sacred right to cast a ballot freely and safely," Faraji added.

5:03 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Trump has talked with some of his potential SCOTUS nominees

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

U.S. Circuit Judge Barbara Lagoa, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, is shown in this official undated photo released by the Florida Supreme Court.
U.S. Circuit Judge Barbara Lagoa, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, is shown in this official undated photo released by the Florida Supreme Court. Florida Supreme Court/AP

President Trump has already spoken with some of the women on his shortlist to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court, the President said Monday, adding that he’d like to see a vote on his pick before the election. 

Trump, who also told reporters at the White House he would announce the pick “Friday or Saturday,” said “five women are being vetted and looked at very carefully,” some of which he spoke with “today and yesterday,” and the day before.

Asked if he would meet with all the women in person, Trump responded, “I don’t know, I doubt it. But we’ll meet with a few probably.”

One of those women may be Barbara Lagoa, who lives in the Miami area where Trump will visit this weekend. 

“I may,” Trump said, when asked if he would meet with Lagoa. “She’s a – highly thought of. Got a lot of support. I’m getting lot of phone calls from a lot of people. I don’t know her but I hear she’s outstanding.”

A confirmation timeline: Trump said he would “much rather have a vote before the election because there’s a lot of work to be done and I’d much rather have it.” 

“We have plenty of time to do it. I mean there’s really a lot of time,” he said. “Let’s say I make the announcement on Saturday. There’s a great deal of time before the election. That’ll be up to Mitch and the Senate. But I’d certainly much rather have the vote. I think it sends a good signal. And it’s solidarity and lots of other things.” 

“I’m just doing my constitutional obligation,” he added.

4:47 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Joe Biden doesn't weigh in on Supreme Court battle in Wisconsin speech

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden arrives to deliver remarks at an aluminum manufacturing facility in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, on September 21.
Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden arrives to deliver remarks at an aluminum manufacturing facility in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, on September 21. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden did not weigh in on the ongoing battle over filling the vacancy left on the Supreme Court after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during a speech in Wisconsin on Monday. 

The former vice president instead focused his remarks on criticizing President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 200,000 Americans, and making an appeal to working class voters. 

Biden wore a mask for the duration of his remarks, complying with the state’s mandate that face coverings be worn indoors and in enclosed spaces. In recent speeches in other states Biden has taken off his mask to deliver his remarks. 

Biden has said that the country should honor Ginsburg's wishes and not fill her Supreme Court seat until after the presidential election and inauguration.

“The people of this nation are choosing their future right now as they vote. To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power, and I don't believe the people of this nation will stand for it,” Biden said in a speech on Sunday in Philadelphia. 

The former vice president’s remarks on Monday came minutes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor and said Trump’s nominee “will receive a vote on the floor of the Senate." Trump said he would unveil his selection to replace Ginsburg by the end of the week. 

The vacancy on the high court offers Trump the opportunity to install a third conservative justice on the court during his first term in office and bolster his legacy. 

Ginsburg, who died on Friday, told her granddaughter that she wanted her replacement to be appointed by the next president, according to NPR

"My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," Ginsburg dictated to granddaughter, Clara Spera, days before her death.

4:29 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

GOP senator says Republicans could confirm Trump's nominee even if he loses

From CNN's Manu Raju

Sen. John Cornyn talks with Sen. Chris Coons before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation" on Capitol Hill on August 5 in Washington.
Sen. John Cornyn talks with Sen. Chris Coons before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation" on Capitol Hill on August 5 in Washington. Carolyn Kaster/Pool/Getty Images

Ahead of a GOP Senate leadership meeting tonight, GOP Sen. John Cornyn was asked if the Senate would confirm a Trump nominee in a lame-duck session if Joe Biden wins the presidency.

His response: “You mean while we're still in our term office, and President Trump is? Of course.”

Cornyn, a member of the leadership team, was asked if the vote could happen before the election. He said that it typically takes more than two months and added that the ones that happened quicker were consensus nominees.

“You know, it's sort of like a vaccine — I’m for doing vaccine when it's safe and effective. But I'm not for accelerating the process just for that," he said,

Asked about taking the opposite position in 2016, Cornyn said, “That’s because President Obama was term limited out.”

A full meeting of Senate Republicans is scheduled for Tuesday. 

4:52 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Biden slams Trump's Covid-19 response: "He froze, he failed to act, he panicked"

Source: Pool
Source: Pool

As the US nears 200,000 coronavirus deaths, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is delivering remarks from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where he called on the country to not "let the numbers become statistics of background noise."

"What worries me now is we've been living with this pandemic for so long, I worry we're risking becoming numb to the toll that it's taken on us and our country and communities like this," Biden said.

"We can't let that happen. We can't lose the ability to feel the sorrow and the loss and the anger for so many lives lost," Biden continued.

Biden used his speech to slam Trump's coronavirus response, saying he "froze, he failed to act, he panicked."

Trump's rival also took a swipe at the President's rallies. 

"Oh, he loves his rallies. And the next time he holds one, look closely. Trump keeps his distance from anyone in the rally. The folks who come are packed in tight as they could be, risking disease, mostly without masks. But not Trump," Biden said.

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