Barrett Expected to be Named for SCOTUS09/26 08:50
President Donald Trump is expected to announce Saturday that he is
nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court as he aims to put a
historic conservative stamp on the high court just weeks before the election.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump is expected to announce Saturday
that he is nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court as he aims
to put a historic conservative stamp on the high court just weeks before the
Trump said Friday he had made up his mind and it was "very exciting,"
without giving away the name, aiming to maintain some suspense around his
personal announcement. But the White House indicated to congressional
Republicans and outside allies that the pick was Barrett.
"Well I haven't said it was her, but she's outstanding," Trump said of the
Indiana federal judge.
Conservative groups and congressional allies are laying the groundwork for a
swift confirmation process for her, even before Trump makes the selection
official in a Rose Garden ceremony Saturday evening. They, like the president,
are wasting little time moving to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
organizing multimillion-dollar ad campaigns and marshalling supporters both to
confirm the pick and to boost Trump to a second term.
The likely shift in the court's makeup --- from Ginsburg, a liberal icon, to
an outspoken conservative --- would be the sharpest ideological swing since
Clarence Thomas replaced Justice Thurgood Marshall nearly three decades ago.
Ever the showman, Trump remained coy about his choice Friday evening as he
returned from a campaign swing. When asked whether lawmakers were being told it
was Barrett, Trump responded with a nod on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews,
before replying, "Is that what they're telling you?"
"You'll find out tomorrow," he went on to say, flashing a wide smile. "Look,
they're all great. It could be any of one them. It could be actually anyone on
For Trump, it will provide a much-needed political assist as he tries to
fire up his base. For conservatives, it will mark a long-sought payoff for
their at-times uncomfortable embrace of Trump. And for Democrats, it will be
another moment of reckoning, with their party locked in a bitter battle to
retake the White House and the Senate.
Senate Republicans are readying for confirmation hearings in two weeks, with
a vote in the full chamber now expected before Election Day. Democrats are
essentially powerless to block the votes.
"I'm confident he's going to make an outstanding nomination," Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News. "The American people are going
to take a look at this nominee and conclude, as we are likely to conclude, that
she well deserves to be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court."
"They're hell-bent on getting this done as fast as possible," said
Democratic Senate whip Dick Durbin. "They think it helps Donald Trump get
Outside conservative groups, who have been preparing for this moment for 40
years, 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.
"One of the things we've learned from the histories of confirmation
processes, the intensity of the fight has more to do with the previous occupant
of the seat than who the nominee is," said JCN's Carrie Severino. "We expect
this to be a very high stakes confirmation."
Within hours of Ginsburg's death, Trump made clear his intention to nominate
a woman in her stead, after previously putting two men on the court and as he
struggles to mitigate an erosion in support among suburban women.
Trump's announcement Saturday will come before Ginsburg is buried beside her
husband next week at Arlington National Cemetery. On Friday, she was the first
woman to lie in state at the Capitol, and mourners flocked to the Supreme Court
for two days before that to pay respects.
The White House has already concluded a round of vetting this month, as
Trump released an additional 20 names he would consider for the court. He has
challenged Democrat Joe Biden to list possible nominees, too.
Trump had said he was considering five women for Ginsburg's seat, but
Barrett was at the White House at least twice this week, including for a Monday
meeting with Trump. He is not known to have met with any of the other
The staunch conservative's 2017 appeals court confirmation on a party-line
vote included allegations that Democrats were attacking her Catholic faith.
Trump allies see that as a political windfall for them should Democrats attempt
to do so once again. Catholic voters in Pennsylvania, in particular, are viewed
as a pivotal demographic in the swing state that Democratic nominee Joe Biden,
also Catholic, is trying to recapture.
Vice President Mike Pence defended Barrett when asked whether her
affiliation with People of Praise, a charismatic Christian community, would
complicate her ability to serve on the high court.
"I must tell you the intolerance expressed during her last confirmation
about her Catholic faith I really think was a disservice to the process and a
disappointment to millions of Americans," he told ABC News.
Though the court can break down along ideological lines in high-profile
cases, Chief Justice John Roberts and his colleagues resist the idea they are
politicians in robes and emphasize that they agree more than they disagree.
Still, Barrett's appointment would make the court more conservative. It would
be transformed from a court divided 5-4 between conservatives and liberals to
one in which six members are conservatives appointed by Republican presidents.
Barrett has been hailed as a justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia, for whom
Trump played up the power to make judicial nominations with conservative
voters in 2016, when Republican senators kept open the seat vacated by the
death of Scalia rather than let President Barack Obama fill the opening.
Trump's decision to release lists of accomplished conservative jurists for
potential elevation was rewarded by increased enthusiasm among white
evangelical voters, many of whom had been resistant to supporting the candidacy
of the one-time New York Democrat.
Trump's campaign is preparing to use the latest confirmation fight for
maximum political effect.
"This is big jet fuel on our base," said Bill Schuette, a former Michigan
attorney general and now a Trump campaign surrogate. "This is going to fire up
our base in order to support the responsibility of the Senate and the president
to make the nomination, the Senate to confirm."