Earlier this week, I wrote about the prediction market’s reaction to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s sudden death. Since then, a new market on the subject has opened, and it has major implications for the Supreme Court.
According to PredictIt, there is now a 98% chance that the Senate will vote on President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before the new Congress is sworn-in on January 3rd. That includes a 79% chance of a vote before the election on November 3rd.
Note that this is not about the confirmation of a nominee, only about a vote being held for a nominee. Whether Amy Coney Barrett or Barbara Lagoa (the two most likely candidates) will be confirmed is another matter entirely. The GOP has a majority of 53 seats in the Senate, with Vice President Pence acting as a tie-breaker. That means that the GOP can lose up to four senators and still get Trump’s nominee through.
So far, two GOP Senators have defected: Susan Collins of Maine (who was instrumental in the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh) and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Senator Romney of Utah was another potential defector, but as of Tuesday morning, Romney supports confirmation hearings during this session of Congress. As do Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Cory Gardner of Colorado. Of the five Republican Senators considered most likely to defect, three have signaled their intention to move forward with Trump’s nominee. The current GOP support for a confirmation hearing is 52 + Pence.
Barring some unforeseeable major political event, Trump will get a hearing for his nominee, and though it is still early in the process, it seems likely that said nominee will be confirmed. That would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the Court. Democrats may very well try to expand the Court in retribution, but that requires them winning the President and the Senate with a majority large enough to account for any possible dissenters. Packing the court will be controversial to say the least, and there are a few Democratic Senators who cannot be relied on to support such a violation of U.S. political norms.
In short, Trump will almost certainly get a vote for his nominee, and all current indications are that nominee will be confirmed.