President Donald Trump is reportedly expected to nominate federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The president is scheduled to officially announce his choice on Saturday at 5 p.m. But on Friday evening, CNN, CBS News, and PBS, quoting sources, reported that Trump’s pick is Barrett.
In choosing Barrett, who currently serves on the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Trump will please conservatives certain to see the pick as solidifying their hold on the court for many years to come.
Her selection will inevitably put abortion and Trump’s push to invalidate the Affordable Care Act at the center of the 2020 presidential race due to her previous comments on both issues.
Just hours after Ginsburg’s Sept. 18 death was announced, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed Trump’s nominee would receive a vote on the Senate floor no matter who he selected. With the election just 39 days away, that promise sets up a confirmation process that will operate at breakneck speed since Senate Democrats have little they can do to stop it.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) indicated last week that hearings would be scheduled in time for a nominee to be confirmed by Election Day.
A former clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett, 48, has served just under three years as a judge but in that short time has shown her conservative leanings in rulings on guns, abortion, and immigration, according to an analysis of her record detailed by SCOTUSblog.
Still, while some of the cases she weighed in on more recently will be reviewed during her confirmation hearings, lawmakers are likely to zero in on her scholarly writings and speeches to conservative groups—just as they did during her 2017 confirmation hearing.
During that hearing, Democratic senators repeatedly asked Barrett how her Catholic faith would influence her decisions on the bench, pointing to a paper titled “Catholic Judges in Capital Cases” she co-authored as a third-year law student about whether Catholic justices should recuse themselves from death penalty cases.
“It’s never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge’s personal convictions whether they derive from faith or anywhere else on the law,” she said in response to a question by Sen. Chuck Grassley, then the Judiciary Committee chairman, about the article.
But it was Sen. Dianne Feinstein who inadvertently made Barrett a conservative star.
After questioning Barrett about Roe v. Wade, Feinstein expressed concern that Barrett’s faith, instead of the Constitution, would guide her decision-making.
“The dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said. “And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.”
And just like that, Barrett became a meme and Feinstein’s remarks a slogan, a rallying cry for the religious right.
In the week before her nomination, conservatives spent the week preemptively attacking Democrats who might potentially raise Barrett’s faith in the debate over her confirmation—even as several claimed no interest in starting that battle anew.
Barrett was ultimately confirmed 55-43. Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine (VA), Joe Manchin (WV), and then-Sen. Joe Donnelly (IN) joined Republicans in voting for her confirmation.
Prior to her confirmation to the Seventh Circuit, Barrett was a professor at the Notre Dame Law School. There, as SCOTUSblog notes, she signed a “statement of protest” in 2012 “condemning the accommodation that the Obama administration created for religious employers who were subject to the ACA’s ‘birth control’ mandate.”
A graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, Barrett currently resides in South Bend, Indiana. She is the mother of seven children, two of whom were adopted from Haiti.