As we continue to feel the aftershocks of Donald Trump being chosen as the new president-elect, there's one immediate political question waiting to be answered by his presidency — when will Trump nominate the new Supreme Court justice? The court has remained short-handed following the death of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia back in February. On the night of Scalia's death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the court vacancy should be filled not by former President Barack Obama, but instead by the next president. And though Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to take Scalia's seat, McConnell stayed true to his word in leaving the chair empty until the next president came into power.
So, when will Trump finally fill Scalia's seat? Well, the first thing to know is that Trump actually has to be president before he can legitimately nominate a Supreme Court justice replacement. So this means that there likely won't be an official nomination put forward to the Senate until after his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.
However, it's also worth noting that Trump released a list of 11 judges he would consider nominating for the role back in May (with an updated list released in September). This means that the Senate has already had a chance to familiarize themselves with potential nominees, which could in turn indicate that the position will be filled quickly following Trump's nomination of that individual.
Trumps first Supreme Court justice nominee list was a testament to the sort of right-wing, conservative values that you may have expected from him. Out of the 11 nominees, eight were men, the majority were opposed to a woman's right to abortion, and all of them were white.
His updated list, released in September, contained only one Caucasian female, but with the added diversity of one African-American male, one Asian male, and one Hispanic male. It's worth noting that the second list also happens to contain names hostile to abortion rights and same-sex marriage, according to NPR.
Though an official date has not been announced for Trump's Supreme Court justice nomination to be given to the Senate, it certainly seems likely that because of the length of time in which the seat has remained empty, that all parties involved may be eager to quickly fill it. It would also be easy to imagine Trump making this nomination one of his first official acts as president, as a way of establishing himself and his court right as he begins to govern from the Oval Office.
Whenever Trump does decide to make the nomination in 2017, the Supreme Court justice replacement he chooses will likely make for a clear affirmation of his values and beliefs — especially as a first-time politician wanting to assert himself in the White House.