Trump to nominate Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court in White House ceremony

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Saturday plans to name conservative appellate judge Amy Coney Barrett as his third U.S. Supreme Court appointment, setting off a scramble in the Republican-led Senate to confirm her before Election Day in 5-1/2 weeks.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a law professor at Notre Dame University, poses in an undated photograph obtained from Notre Dame University September 19, 2020. Matt Cashore/Notre Dame University/Handout via REUTERS.

If confirmed to replace liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died at age 87 on Sept. 18, Barrett would become the fifth woman ever to serve on the top U.S. judicial body and push its conservative majority to a commanding 6-3. With Trump’s fellow Republicans controlling the Senate, confirmation appears certain, though Democrats may try to make the process as difficult as possible.

Barrett, 48, was appointed by Trump to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017 and is a favorite of religious conservatives, a key Trump voter bloc. Conservative activists have hailed Trump’s selection, which surfaced on Friday night, while liberals have voiced dismay.

Like Trump’s two other appointees, Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, Barrett is young enough that she could serve for decades. Barrett would be the youngest Supreme Court nominee since conservative Clarence Thomas was 43 in 1991.

Trump plans to formally introduce his nominee at a 5 p.m. (2100 GMT) White House ceremony, kicking off a flurry of activity that must take place before the final confirmation vote, including public hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A White House source indicated the process will start right away, with the nominee on Tuesday beginning the traditional courtesy calls on individual senators in their offices, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell up first. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone is expected to shepherd the nomination.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, who mounted an angry defense of Kavanaugh during tense confirmation hearings in 2018, has signaled he expects to have Barrett confirmed as a justice by the Nov. 3 election in which Trump is seeking a second term.

Democrats are still seething over McConnell’s 2016 refusal to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland because it came during an election year. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has said the winner of the election should get to replace Ginsburg.

Republicans hold a 53-47 Senate majority. Only two Republican senators have opposed proceeding with the confirmation process.

Abortion rights advocates have worried that Barrett, a devout Roman Catholic, could cast a vote for overturning the 1973 landmark ruling legalizing abortion nationwide.

Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, an anti-abortion group, in a statement on Saturday expressed confidence that Barrett “will fairly apply the law and Constitution as written, which includes protecting the most vulnerable in our nation: our unborn children.”

Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote, a faith-based advocacy group, added, “Catholics are thrilled with the

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House Republicans urge Trump to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court

EXCLUSIVE: A number of House Republicans wrote to President Trump on Wednesday, urging him to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week.

“We write to you today to encourage you to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court of the United States,” the letter by Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.; Jim Banks, R-Ind.; Peter King, R-N.Y.; Jackie Walorski, R-Ind.; and Steve King, R-Iowa, said.

FAITH AND FAMILY: A LOOK AT JUDGE AMY CONEY BARRETT

“We are confident that Judge Barrett, if nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court, will respect and defend the original text of the U.S. Constitution, as intended by America’s founding fathers,” the letter, obtained by Fox News, added. “Her presence and critical vote on our nation’s highest court will help restore the balance of the separation of powers between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.”

TRUMP MET WITH POTENTIAL SCOTUS NOMINEE AMY CONEY BARRETT, SOURCES TELL FOX NEWS

Barrett, a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, is believed to be one of the frontrunners to be Trump’s pick to fill the vacancy on the high court Trump met with Barrett on Monday, sources told Fox News. He is expected to announce his pick on Saturday.

As a pro-life Roman Catholic who clerked for late Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett has strong conservative credentials and was reportedly considered by Trump to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2018 — but Trump eventually picked now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh

Should she get the nod from Trump, she is expected to face a fierce battle from Democrats in the Senate, who grilled Barrett on her religious faith when she was confirmed to the Seventh Circuit in 2017.

She told a 2006 Notre Dame law school graduating class, “Your legal career is but a means to an end, and … that end is building the kingdom of God … if you can keep in mind that your fundamental purpose in life is not to be a lawyer, but to know, love, and serve God, you truly will be a different kind of lawyer.”

At the 2017 hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told her bluntly, “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.”

Barrett responded:  “If you’re asking whether I take my Catholic faith seriously, I do, though I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear on the discharge of my duties as a judge.

The House lawmakers noted that Barrett was ultimately confirmed in a bipartisan vote in the Senate to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Before that she was a law professor in Notre Dame for 15 years.

“In the vetting process for this judgeship, both Judge Barrett’s colleagues and students at Notre Dame expressed great confidence in her abilities to carry out her duties on one of our nation’s highest courts,” they said.

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The letter comes

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