Ruth Bader Ginsburg death: Here's what could happen with the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy
6 min read
The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has thrust the Senate into uncharted political terrain, with no recent precedent for a vacancy on the high court so close to a presidential election.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement Friday night vowed that "President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate." But he did not say when or how that would happen, and there's significant uncertainty about what comes next.

A look at the confirmation process and what we know and don't know about what's to come:

Can the Senate fill the seat before the election?

Yes, but it would require a breakneck pace. Supreme Court nominations have taken around 70 days to move through the Senate, and the last, for Brett Kavanaugh, took longer. The election is 45 days away. Yet there are no set rules for how long the process should take once President Donald Trump announces his pick, and some nominations have moved more quickly. It will come down to politics and votes.

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What does it take to confirm a nominee?

0:35 Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dead at 87 Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dead at 87

Only a majority. Republicans control the Senate by a 53-47 margin, meaning they could lose up to three votes and still confirm a justice, if Vice President Mike Pence were to break a 50-50 tie.

Supreme Court nominations used to need 60 votes for confirmation if any senator objected, but McConnell changed Senate rules in 2017 to allow the confirmation of justices with 51 votes. He did so as Democrats threatened to filibuster Trump's first nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch.

How does the campaign factor in?

Republicans are defending 25 of the 38 seats that are on the ballot this year, and many of their vulnerable members have been eager to end the fall session and return home to the campaign trail. The Senate is scheduled to recess in mid-October, though that schedule could change.

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Still, many of the most vulnerable senators may be hesitant to vote on a nominee before facing voters in November, and their views could ultimately determine the timeline for action.…
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