Republican Senator Mitt Romney said on Tuesday he would support holding a Senate confirmation vote for President Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee, giving Trump a crucial boost in his bid to install a conservative replacement for the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Romney's announcement made it even more unlikely that Democrats will be able to block Senate confirmation of the Republican president's third appointment to the nine-member high court. Trump has said he plans to announce his nominee by the end of the week.
While he has criticized Trump on some matters and even voted to remove him from office in the February impeachment trial, Romney said he would support considering the president's appointment this year even so close to the Nov. 3 presidential election. Democrats have said the Senate should wait until after voters decide whether to re-elect Trump or chose his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
"My decision regarding a Supreme Court nomination is not the result of a subjecting test of 'fairness' which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder," Romney said in a statement.
"I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the President's nominee," he said.
Republicans hold a 53-47 edge in the Senate, but two of them, Maine's Susan Collins and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, have said the chamber should not move forward with a Trump nominee before the election. But two more Republicans would have to oppose moving forward with confirmation in order for Democrats to be able to block it.
A Trump appointee would give the court a 6-3 conservative majority.