SCOTUS battle reshapes 2020 election

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:58 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020
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6:18 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Ginsburg will be the first woman to lie in state at US Capitol

From CNN's Ali Zaslav

Late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will become the first woman in history to lie in state in the US Capitol, according to congressional historians.

Additionally, Ginsburg will be only the second Supreme Court Justice to lie in state since President William Howard Taft.

Rosa Parks was the first woman to lie in honor in the Rotunda of the US Capitol in 2005.

The architect of the Capitol notes on its website that in the case of government officials and military officers, "The Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol has been considered the most suitable place for the nation to pay final tribute to its most eminent citizens by having their remains lay in state." 

When a private citizen such as Parks is paid the tribute, the ceremony is called lying in honor. 

When lying in state, five guards of honor, each representing the five branches of the Armed Forces, will stand watch over the remains.

For recipients who have been designated to lie in honor, the United States Capitol Police instead act as civilian guards of honor, the website notes.

Ginsburg will lie in state on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced earlier Monday.

8:58 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Judge rules Wisconsin mail-in ballots can be received by Nov. 9

From CNN's Marshall Cohen and Ross Levitt

A postal worker empties a box near the Fiserv Forum on Tuesday, Aug. 18, in Milwaukee.
A postal worker empties a box near the Fiserv Forum on Tuesday, Aug. 18, in Milwaukee. Morry Gash/AP

In a victory for Democrats, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled that mail-in ballots can be received by Nov. 9, six days after Election Day, provided they are postmarked by Nov. 3.

“…the court concludes that plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success in demonstrating the risk of disenfranchisement of thousands of Wisconsin voters due to the election day receipt deadline outweighs any state interest during this pandemic. Accordingly, the court will grant this request, extending the receipt deadline for absentee ballots until November 9, 2020, but requiring that the ballots be mailed and postmarked on or before election day, November 3, 2020.” Judge William Conley wrote. 

The ruling comes after Democrats won similar victories in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where postmark deadlines have also been extended. Taken together, if the rulings stand, they ensure that tens of thousands of ballots that would’ve been rejected due to lateness will end up getting counted.

It’s one of several changes that are included in the ruling. 

The ruling also gives voters one more week to register to vote, pushing the deadline from Oct. 14 to Oct. 21 and allows voters to receive replacement ballots from Oct. 22 to Oct. 29 for those who requested ballots but did not receive them.

The ruling also allows election officials to be residents of other counties within Wisconsin.

The judge stayed the ruling for one week to give Republicans time to appeal. “NO voter can depend on any extension of deadlines for electronic and mail-in registration and for receipt of absentee ballots unless finally upheld on appeal. In the meantime, lest they effectively lose their right to do so by the vagaries of COVID-19, mail processing or other, unforeseen developments leading up to the November election, the court joins the WEC in urging especially new Wisconsin voters to register by mail on or before October 14, 2020, and all voters to do so by absentee ballot as soon as possible,” Conley cautioned.

Democrats have said they want postmark deadlines extended to ensure more voters’ ballots are counted. But the later deadlines also inject more uncertainty into an already fragile post-election process. They could complicate efforts by news organizations to promptly project winners – because the pool of possible eligible votes will continue growing for several days after the polls close.

Farbod Faraji, counsel for Protect Democracy, said, "the court's decision is a significant step toward ensuring that our democracy does not slide even further into peril.

"This decision will help ensure that Wisconsinites can exercise their sacred right to cast a ballot freely and safely," Faraji added.

5:03 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Trump has talked with some of his potential SCOTUS nominees

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

U.S. Circuit Judge Barbara Lagoa, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, is shown in this official undated photo released by the Florida Supreme Court.
U.S. Circuit Judge Barbara Lagoa, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, is shown in this official undated photo released by the Florida Supreme Court. Florida Supreme Court/AP

President Trump has already spoken with some of the women on his shortlist to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court, the President said Monday, adding that he’d like to see a vote on his pick before the election. 

Trump, who also told reporters at the White House he would announce the pick “Friday or Saturday,” said “five women are being vetted and looked at very carefully,” some of which he spoke with “today and yesterday,” and the day before.

Asked if he would meet with all the women in person, Trump responded, “I don’t know, I doubt it. But we’ll meet with a few probably.”

One of those women may be Barbara Lagoa, who lives in the Miami area where Trump will visit this weekend. 

“I may,” Trump said, when asked if he would meet with Lagoa. “She’s a – highly thought of. Got a lot of support. I’m getting lot of phone calls from a lot of people. I don’t know her but I hear she’s outstanding.”

A confirmation timeline: Trump said he would “much rather have a vote before the election because there’s a lot of work to be done and I’d much rather have it.” 

“We have plenty of time to do it. I mean there’s really a lot of time,” he said. “Let’s say I make the announcement on Saturday. There’s a great deal of time before the election. That’ll be up to Mitch and the Senate. But I’d certainly much rather have the vote. I think it sends a good signal. And it’s solidarity and lots of other things.” 

“I’m just doing my constitutional obligation,” he added.

4:47 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Joe Biden doesn't weigh in on Supreme Court battle in Wisconsin speech

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden arrives to deliver remarks at an aluminum manufacturing facility in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, on September 21.
Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden arrives to deliver remarks at an aluminum manufacturing facility in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, on September 21. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden did not weigh in on the ongoing battle over filling the vacancy left on the Supreme Court after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during a speech in Wisconsin on Monday. 

The former vice president instead focused his remarks on criticizing President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 200,000 Americans, and making an appeal to working class voters. 

Biden wore a mask for the duration of his remarks, complying with the state’s mandate that face coverings be worn indoors and in enclosed spaces. In recent speeches in other states Biden has taken off his mask to deliver his remarks. 

Biden has said that the country should honor Ginsburg's wishes and not fill her Supreme Court seat until after the presidential election and inauguration.

“The people of this nation are choosing their future right now as they vote. To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power, and I don't believe the people of this nation will stand for it,” Biden said in a speech on Sunday in Philadelphia. 

The former vice president’s remarks on Monday came minutes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor and said Trump’s nominee “will receive a vote on the floor of the Senate." Trump said he would unveil his selection to replace Ginsburg by the end of the week. 

The vacancy on the high court offers Trump the opportunity to install a third conservative justice on the court during his first term in office and bolster his legacy. 

Ginsburg, who died on Friday, told her granddaughter that she wanted her replacement to be appointed by the next president, according to NPR

"My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," Ginsburg dictated to granddaughter, Clara Spera, days before her death.

4:29 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

GOP senator says Republicans could confirm Trump's nominee even if he loses

From CNN's Manu Raju

Sen. John Cornyn talks with Sen. Chris Coons before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation" on Capitol Hill on August 5 in Washington.
Sen. John Cornyn talks with Sen. Chris Coons before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation" on Capitol Hill on August 5 in Washington. Carolyn Kaster/Pool/Getty Images

Ahead of a GOP Senate leadership meeting tonight, GOP Sen. John Cornyn was asked if the Senate would confirm a Trump nominee in a lame-duck session if Joe Biden wins the presidency.

His response: “You mean while we're still in our term office, and President Trump is? Of course.”

Cornyn, a member of the leadership team, was asked if the vote could happen before the election. He said that it typically takes more than two months and added that the ones that happened quicker were consensus nominees.

“You know, it's sort of like a vaccine — I’m for doing vaccine when it's safe and effective. But I'm not for accelerating the process just for that," he said,

Asked about taking the opposite position in 2016, Cornyn said, “That’s because President Obama was term limited out.”

A full meeting of Senate Republicans is scheduled for Tuesday. 

4:52 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Biden slams Trump's Covid-19 response: "He froze, he failed to act, he panicked"

Source: Pool
Source: Pool

As the US nears 200,000 coronavirus deaths, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is delivering remarks from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where he called on the country to not "let the numbers become statistics of background noise."

"What worries me now is we've been living with this pandemic for so long, I worry we're risking becoming numb to the toll that it's taken on us and our country and communities like this," Biden said.

"We can't let that happen. We can't lose the ability to feel the sorrow and the loss and the anger for so many lives lost," Biden continued.

Biden used his speech to slam Trump's coronavirus response, saying he "froze, he failed to act, he panicked."

Trump's rival also took a swipe at the President's rallies. 

"Oh, he loves his rallies. And the next time he holds one, look closely. Trump keeps his distance from anyone in the rally. The folks who come are packed in tight as they could be, risking disease, mostly without masks. But not Trump," Biden said.

Watch here:

5:38 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

McConnell: Trump's SCOTUS nominee "will receive a vote" from Senate

From CNN's Clare Foran, Kaitlan Collins, Ariane de Vogue and Kevin Liptak

Source: Senate TV
Source: Senate TV

Speaking on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Trump's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg "will receive a vote on the floor of the Senate."

McConnell said the same individuals who "tried every conceivable dirty trick to obstruct Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh are lining up, lining up to proclaim the third time will be the charm."

The top Republican senator said the American people are "about to witness an astonishing parade of misrepresentations about the past, misstatements about the present, and more threats against our institutions."

McConnell claimed the Senate "has more than sufficient time to process a nomination" before the election.

“We are already hearing incorrect claims that there is not sufficient time to examine and confirm a nominee. We can debunk this myth in about 30 seconds,” he said, adding, “As of today there are 43 days until November 3 and 104 days until the end of this Congress. The late, iconic Justice John Paul Stevens was confirmed by the Senate 19 days after this body formally received his nomination. Nineteen days from start to finish.”

McConnell sought to rebut criticism over his handling of the Merrick Garland nomination by arguing as he has before that the circumstances are different now. He said that there is “overwhelming precedent behind the fact that this Senate will vote on this nomination this year.”

The GOP leader paid tribute to Ginsburg, calling her a “brilliant generational legal mind who climbed past one obstacle after another to summit the very pinnacle of her profession.” 

Some background: Trump said earlier today that he would unveil his selection to replace Ginsburg by the end of the week after spending the weekend fielding advice and floating potential nominees to a wide orbit of advisers.

The decision on who to nominate to replace the late jurist and women's rights icon — and when to nominate her — amounts to one of the biggest decisions of Trump's presidency.

"I think it'll be on Friday or Saturday and we want to pay respect," Trump said in a Monday morning interview on "Fox and Friends."

"It looks like we will have probably services on Thursday or Friday, as I understand it," he went on. "And I think the respect we should wait for the services to be over for Justice Ginsburg. So we're looking at probably Friday or maybe Saturday."

Read more here.

Watch here:

3:24 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Biden campaign expands television and digital advertising footprint to Georgia and Iowa

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

In this February 2, 2020 photo, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Hiatt Middle School in Des Moines, Iowa.
In this February 2, 2020 photo, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Hiatt Middle School in Des Moines, Iowa. Joshua Lott/Getty Images

The Biden campaign announced Monday that it is expanding its advertising footprint in battleground states, going up on the air in Georgia and Iowa. 

Additionally, the campaign is releasing new ads on TV and digital targeting Black voters in Georgia featuring its “Shop Talk” series. 

“Shop Talk: Criminal Justice Reform” features a group of African American men discussing criminal justice issues facing their communities, families, and selves, and why America needs Joe Biden’s plan for strengthening America’s commitment to justice, according to the campaign.

“Shop Talk: Yes She Can” features a conversation "about the historic nature of Kamala Harris’ candidacy as the first African American woman on the ticket." The previously released ads “We Are Listening” and “He Knew” will also be airing in Georgia markets.

The campaign's ads in Iowa will seek to draw a contrast between the Democratic presidential nominee and President Trump, focusing on the economy, Biden's ability to unify the country, Covid-19 and the President's response to the pandemic.

The campaign says it is up on the air now in a total of 12 battleground states: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Nebraska, and Minnesota.

3:21 p.m. ET, September 21, 2020

Youth organizers are sending a message to Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley – via pigeon

From CNN's Rachel Janfaza

Organizers with NextGen America will send a message to Sen. Chuck Grassley by pigeon mail, they told CNN Monday.

NextGen has hired a carrier pigeon service called “PigeonGram” to deliver the message, which will urge Grassley to delay a vote on a Supreme Court nominee.

The Iowa Republican has yet to comment on whether or not he believes a vote on a nominee should happen this year following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week.

The plans from NextGen, the progressive youth voter engagement organization founded by businessman Tom Steyer, come after Grassley tweeted about a dead pigeon Friday.  

Grassley, who is known to run his own Twitter account, found a dead pigeon on his lawn and tweeted, “If u lost ur pet pidgin /it’s dead in front yard my Iowa farm JUST DISCOVERED here r identifiers Right leg Blue 2020/3089/AU2020/SHE ///LEFT LEG GREEN BAND NO PRINTED INFO. Sorry for bad news.”

 

“We saw that there was a lot of attention around the pigeon, and we wanted to draw more attention to the issue that we’ve been talking to young people about, which is honoring RBG’s dying wish,” Murphy Burke, an organizer with NextGen in Iowa, told CNN. 

NextGen plans to have the message delivered to Grassley at the US Capitol after President Trump announces his Supreme Court pick later this week. 

The US Postal Service will help with most of the delivery.

Burke noted that while the message will be in-part delivered by pigeon, the act is mostly symbolic. The message Grassley receives will come in an envelope from PigeonGram, indicating that it was carried in part by a homing pigeon.

“A pigeon cannot really deliver mail in this day and age,” Burke told CNN. “But we like the fact that the envelope will say the message was carried by a homing pigeon.”

In addition to its plans to contact Grassley by pigeon mail, NextGen is urging young people across the country to send messages to their senators to refuse to hold a vote on a Supreme Court nominee until after the November election. 

Following Ginsburg's death, NextGen released new Senate ads in Maine, North Carolina, Iowa and Arizona Saturday highlighting the importance of electing Democrats to the Senate, which could allow them to reclaim the majority. 

NextGen’s efforts come as a number of youth led groups work to convince senators to hold off on a Supreme Court nomination vote.

Sunrise Movement, the youth-led climate organization, demonstrated outside the homes of Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Thom Tillis of North Carolina on Monday.

The group plans to target other Republican senators — Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — as well as potential Supreme Court nominee Barbara Lagoa of Florida later this week.

“We only need four Republicans to do the right thing and stick to the McConnell precedent,” Aracely Jimenez, deputy communications director for Sunrise, said in a statement Monday. “We must do everything in our power to hold vulnerable Republicans and also Senate Democrats accountable in order to prevent an appointment to the bench before Biden is sworn in.” 

In the coming days, March For Our Lives, the gun violence prevention organization, plans to demonstrate outside the offices of Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, David Perdue of Georgia, Mitt Romney of Utah and Martha McSally of Arizona. 

March For Our Lives is also encouraging participants to get involved virtually by emailing senators using a pre-filled form, text banking, and faxing senator letters, asking them to hold off on a vote.