Trump Caps SCOTUS Remake With Barrett 09/27 11:21
President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme
Court, capping a dramatic reshaping of the federal judiciary that will resonate
for a generation and that he hopes will provide a needed boost to his
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Amy Coney
Barrett to the Supreme Court, capping a dramatic reshaping of the federal
judiciary that will resonate for a generation and that he hopes will provide a
needed boost to his reelection effort.
Barrett, a former clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, said Saturday
that she was "truly humbled" by the nomination and quickly aligned herself with
Scalia's conservative approach to the law, saying his "judicial philosophy is
Barrett, 48, was joined in the Rose Garden by her husband and seven
children. If confirmed by the Senate, she would fill the seat vacated by
liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It would be the sharpest ideological swing
since Clarence Thomas replaced Justice Thurgood Marshall nearly three decades
She would be the sixth justice on the nine-member court to be appointed by a
Republican president, and the third of Trump's first term in office.
Trump hailed Barrett as "a woman of remarkable intellect and character,"
saying he had studied her record closely before making the pick.
Republican senators are lining up for a swift confirmation of Barrett ahead
of the Nov. 3 election, as they aim to lock in conservative gains in the
federal judiciary before a potential transition of power. Trump, meanwhile, is
hoping the nomination will galvanize his supporters as he looks to fend off
Democrat Joe Biden.
For Trump, whose 2016 victory hinged in large part on reluctant support from
white evangelicals on the promise of filling Scalia's seat with a conservative,
the latest nomination in some ways brings his first term full circle. Even
before Ginsburg's death, Trump was running on having confirmed in excess of 200
federal judges, fulfilling a generational aim of conservative legal activists.
Trump joked that the confirmation process ahead "should be easy" and
"extremely noncontroversial," though it is likely to be anything but. No court
nominee has been considered so close to a presidential election before, with
early voting already underway. He encouraged legislators to take up her
nomination swiftly and asked Democrats to "refrain from personal and partisan
In 2016, Republicans blocked Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the
Supreme Court to fill the election-year vacancy, saying voters should have a
say in the lifetime appointment. Senate Republicans say they will move ahead
this time, arguing the circumstances are different now that the White House and
Senate are controlled by the same party.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will vote "in the
weeks ahead" on Barrett's confirmation. Barrett is expected to make her first
appearance Tuesday on Capitol Hill, where she will meet with McConnell;
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chair of the Judiciary Committee; and
others. Hearings are set to begin Oct. 12, and Graham said he hoped to have
Barrett's nomination out of the committee by Oct. 26.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned
that a vote to confirm Barrett to the high court would be a vote to strike down
the Affordable Care Act. Schumer added that the president was once again
putting "Americans' healthcare in the crosshairs" even while the coronavirus
Biden took that route of criticism, as well, framing Trump's choice as
another move in Republicans' effort to scrap the 2010 health care law passed by
his former boss, President Barack Obama. The court is expected to take up a
case against it this fall.
The set design at the Rose Garden, with large American flags hung between
the colonnades, appeared to be modeled on the way the White House was decorated
when President Bill Clinton nominated Ginsburg in 1993.
Barrett, recognizing that flags were still lowered in recognition of
Ginsburg's death, said she would be "mindful of who came before me." Although
they have different judicial philosophies, Barrett praised Ginsburg as a
trailblazer for women and for her friendship with Scalia, saying, "She has won
the admiration of women across the country and indeed all across the world."
Within hours of Ginsburg's death, Trump made clear he would nominate a woman
for the seat. Barrett was the early favorite and the only one to meet with
Barrett has been a judge since 2017, when Trump nominated her to the
Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But as a longtime University
of Notre Dame law professor, she had already established herself as a reliable
conservative in the mold of Scalia, for whom she clerked in the late 1990s.
She would be the only justice on the current court not to have received her
law degree from an Ivy League school. The eight current justices all attended
either Harvard or Yale.
The staunch conservative had become known to Trump in large part after her
bitter 2017 appeals court confirmation included allegations that Democrats were
attacking her Catholic faith. The president also interviewed her in 2018 for
the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, but Trump
ultimately chose Brett Kavanaugh.
Trump and his political allies are itching for another fight over Barrett's
faith, seeing it as a political windfall that would backfire on Democrats.
Catholic voters in Pennsylvania, in particular, are viewed as a pivotal
demographic in the swing state that Biden, also Catholic, is trying to
While Democrats appear powerless to stop Barrett's confirmation in the
GOP-controlled Senate, they are seeking to use the process to weaken Trump's
Barrett's nomination could become a reckoning over abortion, an issue that
has divided many Americans so bitterly for almost half a century. The idea of
overturning or gutting Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized
abortion, has animated activists in both parties for decades. Now, with the
seemingly decisive shift in the court's ideological makeup, Democrats hope
their voters will turn out in droves because of their frustration with the
"Justice Ginsburg must be turning over in her grave up in heaven, to see
that the person they chose seems to be intent on undoing all the things that
Ginsburg did," Schumer said.
Trump has also increasingly embraced the high court --- on which he will
have had an outsize hand in reshaping --- as an insurance policy in a close
"We don't have to do it before, but I think this will be done before the
election," Trump told reporters Saturday. "I think it'll send a great signal to
a lot of people."
Increases in mail, absentee and early voting brought about by the
coronavirus pandemic have already led to a flurry of election litigation, and
both Trump and Biden have assembled armies of lawyers to continue the fight
once vote-counting begins. Trump has been open about tying his push to name a
third justice to the court to a potentially drawn-out court fight to determine
who will be sworn in on Jan. 20, 2021.
"I think this will end up in the Supreme Court," Trump said Wednesday of the
election. "And I think it's very important that we have nine justices."
No Democratic senators are expected to vote to confirm Barrett before the
election, even though some did support her in 2017.
Two Democrats still serving in the Senate who voted to confirm Barrett in
2017, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, now say
it's too close to the election to consider her nomination.
Meanwhile, outside conservative groups are planning to spend more than $25
million to support Trump and his nominee. The Judicial Crisis Network has
organized a coalition that includes American First Policies, the Susan B.
Anthony List, the Club for Growth and the group Catholic Vote to help confirm
Barrett. The Republican National Committee has launched a $10 million digital
campaign of its own, in conjunction with Trump's reelection campaign.