Trump, who is facing an uphill battle to earn re-election in November, has indicated he will make an appointment, and McConnell has pledged there will be a vote on a new justice before a new Senate is seated on January 3.

But if Trump does make his pick and McConnell does push the choice through the Senate, his coalition of traditional conservatives and populist nationalists will likely dissolve. Gone will be the fear that a Democratic president will appoint a justice who will swing the Court so far to the left that gay marriage will be mandatory and abortions will be performed at Costco.

In effect, by making a pick, Trump may be rendering himself obsolete in November.