President Donald Trump plans to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court vacancy following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, multiple media outlets, including CBS News, CNN and The New York Times, reported on Friday afternoon.
Trump plans to announce his choice at a White House ceremony on Saturday afternoon.
The president told reporters that he had made a decision, but told of reports that Barrett was the pick, he said, “I haven’t said that…They’re all great.”
The choice of Barrett would not be a surprise: She has been widely viewed as a front runner for the high court, and met with the president earlier this week. She also was reported to have been a leading contender for the last Supreme Court vacancy in 2018, when the president ultimately selected Brett Kavanaugh to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Barrett, 48, has been on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals since 2017, and is a favorite of conservatives for her originalist views in the tradition of Justice Antonin Scalia.
But she will likely trigger a bitter battle over her opposition to Roe Vs. Wade and criticism of Justice John Roberts’ 2012 majority opinion that upheld the Affordable Care Act. The latter is particularly relevant in that the healthcare law is being challenged again, with arguments scheduled before the court on Nov. 10. The Trump administration is backing the argument that the law should be overturned.
As her name has been floated this week as one of the finalists, some Republicans have been attacking Democrats for the way that Barrett was questioned during her appellate court confirmation hearing back in 2017. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) questioned her on how she would separate her religious beliefs from her judicial decisions, and said, “The dogma lives loudly within you.” Barrett was on the board of trustees for Trinity School, founded by the Christian group People of Praise, according to a judicial questionnaire she filed with the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017.
Barrett served as a law clerk for Scalia from 1998 to 1999, and was a law professor at Notre Dame from 2002 to her confirmation in 2017.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he would move forward with Trump’s nominee, and it appears that he has the votes to do so. The question is whether the president can fill the seat before the Nov. 3 election, or whether it will spill over into the lame duck session of Congress.
When Barrett was in private practice at Baker Botts in 2000, the firm represented George W. Bush in the Florida recount, and she provided research and briefing assistance at the outset of the case in the state court. Should she be confirmed, she could be part of any challenge of this year’s presidential election results.
Democrats have highlighted the hypocrisy in Republicans moving forward with a Supreme Court nomination, after McConnell blocked President Barack Obama’s attempt to fill a vacancy in 2016, following Scalia’s death in February of that year. At the time, McConnell and other Republicans said that voters should be allowed to weigh in with their choice of president. But just hours after Ginsburg’s death last week, McConnell reversed his stance.
“The country already opposes rushing a pick through so close to the election, but in selecting Amy Coney Barrett, Donald Trump has chosen the person most likely to turbocharged the intensity of the opposition to this whole process,” Brian Fallon, executive director of the group Demand Justice, said in a statement.
Earlier on Friday, a procession made its was from the Supreme Court to the Capitol, where Ginsburg’s casket was place in National Statuary Hall for viewing. She became the first woman to lie in state at the Capitol, at a ceremony led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. While other members of Congress were present, neither McConnell nor House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy attended.
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