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Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.

What they're saying: "In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year," McConnell said in a statement.

  • "By contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary. Once again, we will keep our promise."
  • "President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate."

Why it matters: We know Trump's list of potential nominees, we know the process, and we fully know the politics set to explode. Republicans, assuming they stay united as they have through thick and thin, hold all the cards.

  • A Democrat involved in the machinations tells us: "[U]ltimately if their caucus hangs together, you can't block them."
  • Within moments of the news breaking, a top Democrat texted: "Catastrophe."

The other side: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer plans to fight the nomination. In a statement dictated to her granddaughter days before her death, Ginsburg said: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

Between the lines: The Senate Republicans' precedent of stonewalling Merrick Garland, after he was nominated by President Obama in 2016 — and the reported desire of Justice Ginsburg to be replaced only after a new president is installed — will do nothing to slow or sway Trump or McConnell, the sources tell us.

  • A Republican close to the White House told Axios that if Trump and McConnell didn't move before the election, "the Republican base will revolt, sit home."
  • The confirmation vote would be tight. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told the N.Y. Times' Jonathan Martin earlier this month that she wouldn't seat a Supreme Court justice in October: "I think that’s too close, I really do."
Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
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Go deeper

Oct 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Court rules Minnesota absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. Election Day

An election judge drops a ballot in a ballot box at a drive through drop-off for absentee ballots in Minneapolis. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

An appeals court on Thursday ruled that Minnesota absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.

Why it matters: The ruling, which comes just five days before the election, blocks the state's plan to count absentee ballots arriving late so long as they're postmarked by Nov. 3 and delivered within a week of the election. Now those ballots must be set aside and marked late.

Supreme Court rejects second GOP effort to cut absentee ballot deadline in N.C.

Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The Supreme Court, for the second time in two days, rejected a GOP request to shorten the deadline mail-in ballots must be received by North Carolina officials to be counted.

The state of play: The state's deadline had been extended from 3 days to 9 days post-Election Day.

Kamala Harris, the new left's insider

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images     

Progressive leaders see Sen. Kamala Harris, if she's elected vice president, as their conduit to a post-Biden Democratic Party where the power will be in younger, more diverse and more liberal hands.

  • Why it matters: The party's rising left sees Harris as the best hope for penetrating Joe Biden's older, largely white inner circle.

If Biden wins, Harris will become the first woman, first Black American and first Indian American to serve as a U.S. vice president — and would instantly be seen as the first in line for the presidency should Biden decide against seeking a second term.