The Scenario in Which Kelly Could Stop Trump's Pick

Arizona's race is a special election, and GOP agrees winner can take office quickly
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2020 8:17 AM CDT
Mark Kelly Could Reach Senate in Time to Vote on Court Pick
Mark Kelly, a Democrat, could take office at the end of November.   (Mike Christy/Arizona Daily Star via AP, File)

"I believe the people elected to the presidency and Senate in November should fill this vacancy," Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly said in a statement Saturday about choosing the next US Supreme Court justice. Similar statements by other Senate candidates this fall wouldn't mean much, because they wouldn't take their seats until January, and President Trump and Senate Republicans could have a new justice in place by then. But Arizona's Senate election is not like the others this year, NBC News reports. Republican Sen. Martha McSally was appointed to her seat after Sen. John McCain died. That means that if she loses the special election to Kelly—who's ahead in polls—he could take office before the rest of his class. Under state law he could be sworn in as early as Nov. 30, changing the Senate balance to 52-48.

That could help Senate Democrats block Trump's choice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But several variables have to break their way, per the New York Times. The confirmation vote would have to be held during the lame-duck session, three GOP senators would have to vote with Democrats, and the Arizona vote would have to be certified in time. And there is a possible "procedural choke point," per the Times: The election can't be called until the state's 15 counties canvass their results. While there is a deadline for them to do so, there isn't a penalty if they miss it. But both GOP and Democratic party leaders in the state say they won't impede the process. (Trump doesn't appreciate one GOP senator's stance.)

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