US PRESIDENT Donald Trump has said he would nominate a woman to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Immensely popular among Democrats, Ginsburg, 87, died of cancer last Friday, just weeks before the presidential election.
Her death handed Trump, who is seeking re-election on November 3rd, the opportunity to expand its conservative majority to 6-3 at a time of a gaping political divide in the country.
Mourners gathered outside the Supreme Court to mark the death of Justice Ginsburg, a stalwart liberal on the US Supreme Court since 1993.
Speaking at a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Saturday, Trump said: ‘I will be putting forth a nominee next week. It will be a woman.
‘I think it should be a woman because I actually like women much more than men.’
He also took a spontaneous poll from the crowd, asking them to cheer for either a woman or a man for the position, with the crowd cheering significantly louder for the former.
‘That’s a very accurate poll because that’s the way I feel. It will be a woman. A very talented, very brilliant woman, who I haven’t chosen yet – but we have numerous women on the list.’
The president has already named Amy Coney Barrett of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees for the lifetime appointment to the highest US court.
They are both conservatives who would tip the balance of the Supreme Court in favour of the Republicans.
This new Justice would be Trump’s third appointment during his tenure as president.
Any nomination would need to be approved by a simple majority in the Senate, where Trump’s Republicans hold a 53-47 majority.
However, not all Republican senators supported Trump’s move. Maine’s Susan Collins on Saturday said a nomination should wait until after the November election is held.
‘In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd,’ Collins said in a statement.
Earlier, Trump said that he had an ‘obligation’ to act without delay.
‘We have an obligation. We won and we have an obligation as the winners to pick who we want. That’s not the next president. We’re here right now.’
Democrats, however, have opposed any nomination before the election, asserting that Senate Republicans blocked Democrat President Barack Obama’s choice for the US top court in 2016.
Trump suggested last Tuesday that his Democrat opponent Joe Biden has taken drugs to improve his performance in debates.
Trump is currently lagging in the polls behind his Democrat rival Biden, who also said that ‘the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider.’
Meanwhile, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer warned party members on Saturday that if the Republicans press ahead, then ‘nothing is off the table’.
He said: ‘This vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.’
- For the first time in ten months, a US aircraft carrier has sailed through the Strait of Hormuz and entered Persian Gulf waters, at the same time that Washington has threatened to illegally extend an arms embargo on Iran which is due to expire next month.
The US 5th Fleet said in a statement last Friday that the strike group, led by the USS Nimitz and including two guided-missile cruisers and a guided-missile destroyer, sailed into the Persian Gulf to ‘operate and train with US partners’.
The Nimitz strike group includes the USS Princeton and USS Philippine Sea, both guided-missile cruisers, and the guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett.
‘The (carrier strike group) will operate and train alongside regional and coalition partners, and provide naval aviation support to Operation Inherent Resolve,’ read the statement.
‘The Nimitz Strike Group has been operating in the 5th Fleet area of operations since July, and is at the peak of readiness,’ strike group commander Rear Admiral Jim Kirk said in a news release.
‘We will continue our support to the joint force while we operate from the (Persian) Gulf alongside our regional and coalition partners,’ he added.
The IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps) says Iranian naval forces have been directed to target American ‘terrorist’ vessels or warships if they harass any Iranian civil or military vessel off the Persian Gulf.
The United States regularly sends aircraft carrier groups into the Persian Gulf. But the Nimitz strike group is the first carrier to operate there since the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) made the Strait of Hormuz transit in November 2019.
This comes just days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to enforce an arms embargo and ‘UN’ sanctions against Iran, despite nearly the entire UN Security Council saying Washington does not have the grounds to do so.
Last Tuesday, Pompeo said that the US would not allow Iran to purchase any Chinese or Russian military equipment, despite Iran’s stern warning against Washington’s ‘dangerous’ defiance of international law.
‘We are going to act in a way – and we have acted in a way – that will prevent Iran from being able to purchase Chinese tanks and Russian air defence systems and re-sell weapons to Hezbollah,’ Pompeo claimed.
And last Wednesday, Pompeo vowed that the United States would return to the UN to have the sanctions re-imposed on Iran this week.
‘We’ll do all the things we need to do to make sure that those sanctions are enforced,’ he said.
American commentators point out that the aircraft carrier is an obsolete form of military technology and the ‘Iranians can hold the US carrier hostage if they want to.’
Meanwhile last Thursday, Washington’s representative to the Geneva Disarmament Conference, Robert Wood, accused Iran of backing terrorism and said that the US seeks to extend a United Nations ban on Tehran despite its expiration in October under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.
Nabi Azadi, the political adviser to Iran’s Permanent Mission to Geneva, rejected the US accusations, saying that such a move violates Resolution 2231 and amounts to an attempt to destroy multilateral bodies such as the UN after Washington failed to gain international backing to extend the embargo at the Security Council in August.
Azadi said US President Trump’s repeated threats to use force against Iran are provocative and in violation of the UN Charter which prohibits threats or the use of force against a country as a serious threat to international peace and security.
The Iranian representative to the UN warned of the serious consequences of Washington’s irresponsible policies and illegal actions, saying that Tehran will swiftly respond in kind to any act of aggression against the nation, its sovereignty, territorial integrity and its national interests. Azadi also slammed US accusations of terrorism, saying Washington is the one which is supporting terrorists.
He referred to remarks made by Trump and Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton admitting to the US role in creating terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and Daesh.