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New Arizona Senator Could Help Choose Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Replacement

Topline

While Senate Democrats and Republicans battle over whether there should be a vote on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement during an election year, the winner of the Arizona Senate race—who could be sworn in as early as November 30—could potentially decide the fate of the Supreme Court.

Key Facts

Mark Kelly, Democratic nominee for Senate in Arizona, is running against incumbent Republican Senator Martha McSally—polls show Kelly with a wide, 10-point lead over McSally, up five points from last month.

McSally was appointed to the seat by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey after Sen. Jon Kyl, who filled Sen. John McCain’s seat after he passed away, stepped down.

This is a special election for the last two years of McCain’s last term, which means if Kelly takes the seat, he could be sworn in as early as Nov. 30, when state election results are expected to be tallied, reducing the Republican’s 53-47 majority in the Senate (assuming a vote on a Supreme Court nominee is delayed until after the election).

Republicans need a simple majority, 51 votes, to confirm a Supreme Court nominee.

Shortly after Ginsburg passed away, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) released a statement, vowing to hold a vote for President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, though some Republicans have already suggested they won’t vote for a replacement this year.

McSally echoed McConnell last night tweeting, “The U.S. Senate should vote on President Trump’s next nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Surprising Fact

Mark Kelly is a former astronaut, U.S. Navy Captain, and husband to former Representative Gabrielle Giffords. A prolific fundraiser, in 2019 he had more money in his election war chest than Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Key Background

In 2016, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, McConnell refused to hold a confirmation hearing for the-President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, because there was an election 11 months away. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” McConnell said at the time.

Further Reading

The winner of the Arizona Senate race could be seated in time for a vote on a Supreme Court pick. (New York Times)

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Liberal Icon, Dies At 87 (Forbes)

McConnell Vows To Hold Vote On Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee, But Will He Have The Votes? (Forbes)

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