“We cannot let them win this fight,” Senator Kamala Harris of California, the party’s vice-presidential nominee, wrote in an email. “Millions of Americans are counting on us to stand up, right now, and fight like hell to protect the Supreme Court — not just for today, but for generations to come.”
Mr. Trump’s campaign likewise moved to seize advantage on the issue, issuing a statement challenging Mr. Biden: “Where’s your Supreme Court list?” Much as he did in 2016, Mr. Trump this month released a list of more than 40 potential candidates he would consider if a Supreme Court vacancy occurred. Mr. Biden has not released such a list in keeping with longstanding tradition before Mr. Trump arrived on the scene.
As they assessed the myriad political implications, Republican strategists said they believed that the Supreme Court showdown could be beneficial in their fight to hold the Senate majority since the decisive races are being waged in states that Mr. Trump is likely to carry — Iowa, Georgia and Montana among them.
But it could seal the fate of the party’s most endangered incumbent, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, and present challenges for others facing tough races, like Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado, Martha McSally of Arizona, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Ms. Collins this month said she would not favor moving ahead with confirmation of a justice in October, and Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, concurred in an interview on Friday shortly before news of Justice Ginsburg’s death.
But Mr. Graham, who said in 2018 that “we’ll wait to the next election” if an opening occurred in the last year of Mr. Trump’s term, flipped on Saturday, posting an interview he gave in July when he said that “Merrick Garland was a different situation” because the presidency and Senate were controlled by different parties.
Ms. Loeffler posted a statement on Twitter saying that Mr. Trump “has every right to pick a new justice before the election” but did not say whether the Senate should vote by then. In her own tweet, Ms. McSally said, “This U.S. Senate should vote on President Trump’s next nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court,” but did not commit to timing. Likewise, Mr. Tillis said that he “will support” whoever Mr. Trump nominates without saying when a vote should happen.