>> And remember this, so we have a pick to come up. We have to pick a great one.>> Justice Anthony Kennedy has barely hung up his robe, and the storm is already raging in the Senate over who will replace him on the nation's highest court.>> Every American should have his or her eyes wide open.
>> I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington, where Republicans are planning to fast track whoever President Trump nominates to fill Justice Kennedy's shoes, hoping to hold their vote well before the November mid-term elections.>> All Americans->> Democrats are looking for ways to slow the train. As always in Washington, it comes down to who has the votes, and Republicans have the upper hand.
But the outcome is likely to be determined by a small group of centrists from both parties.>> We have to pick one that's gonna be there for 40 years, 45 years.>> Trump is expected to name a more consistent conservative than Kennedy, who sometimes sided with the court's liberals on high profile decisions.
The White House says an announcement could come by July 10th. At first glance, the math looks straightforward for Trump. He and his Senate Republicans only need a simple majority to put his pick on the high court. Republicans have a 51 to 49 advantage. So if they all stick together, the President gets his way.
But in Washington, nothing is that simple. Senate Leader, Mitch McConnell, will have to keep an eagle eye on the moderate lawmakers in his own ranks, people like Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. They might vote against a Trump nominee if they fear he or she might vote to overturn Roe vs Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion legal.
In the same way, top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer could have trouble keeping some of his own troops in line. There are at least three red state Democrats facing tough reelection bids who might wind up siding with Trump. Trump called out one of them, North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, at a rally in her state on Wednesday night.
>> Now, maybe because of this, she'll be forced to vote yes, who knows?>> The other two, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, both face their own tough battles in the fall. With efforts to fix immigration on hold, this is likely to be the hot topic on Capital Hill for the next several months.
As with healthcare and tax reform, the final vote is likely to be a nail-biter, with these centrists playing a starring role.>> Mr Donnelly.