As the nation mourns an icon, Democrats and Republicans fight over Supreme Court vacancy

Mourners of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gathered quietly at the Supreme Court Saturday, laying rows of flowers and writing chalk messages to honor the gender equality icon. But America was closely watching how the Republican machinations to replace her, already unfolding swiftly, will play out across the street at the Capitol and on the campaign trail.

Less than 24 hours after the death of the 87-year-old justice, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump were already engaged in a fierce pressure campaign to hold the Republican conference together and push a nominee through the Senate Judiciary Committee and full Senate process before the end of this year.

Trump said Saturday he will have a nominee "very soon" to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court and thinks he'll make his choice next week, adding that "most likely it would be a woman."

McConnell has been reaching out to moderate Republican senators to gauge their comfort level with that unusually fast timeline 45 days before Election Day, as Democrats pilloried his hypocrisy for blocking a vote on then-President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, in 2016 under the guise that American voters should have a say in an election year.