Trump to name Amy Coney Barrett to US Supreme Court: Report
US President Donald Trump is set to unveil his Supreme Court nominee on Saturday, barely five weeks out from the November 3 presidential election, with US media reporting that he has chosen conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett for the job.
If the 48-year-old law professor is indeed nominated and confirmed, her lifetime appointment would consolidate a conservative majority in the country’s top court, possibly for decades to come.
Citing sources close to the process, media outlets including The New York Times and CNN said Trump would put forward the judge, who is considered hostile to abortion rights, to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a progressive icon who died on September 18.
“We are going to be announcing somebody great,” the US president said in Virginia on a whirlwind three-state campaign tour Friday.
Trump did not name his nominee, but he has previously called Barrett “outstanding.”
An official announcement is expected at 5 pm (2100 GMT) Saturday.
The subject is certain to feature prominently on Tuesday, when Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden hold their first of three presidential debates.
‘Nothing short of outrageous’
Democrats including Biden have demanded that Republicans delay replacing Ginsburg, a champion of women’s rights, until after the election.
“Considering the fact that this Supreme Court nominee may serve on the court for 30 years, it is nothing short of outrageous that they want to approve her in fewer than 30 days,” Senator Dick Durbin, the Democratic whip, told CNN on Saturday.
Barrett would be the youngest justice on the court.
A majority of Americans -- by 57 to 38 percent -- oppose the push for confirmation before the election, according to a new Washington Post/ABC poll.
But leaders of the Republican majority in the Senate, which is tasked with confirming Supreme Court nominees, said they expect a vote either before the election or, at latest, during the ensuing “lame duck” session before the inauguration of the next president in January.
“We will certainly do that this year,” Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell has said.
Liberal groups push back
If Barrett is confirmed, the Supreme Court would have a 6-3 conservative majority as it faces issues as divisive as abortion, gun rights and healthcare.
Barrett was first named to the bench in 2017. A deeply conservative Catholic and mother of seven -- she would be the high court’s sixth Catholic -- Barrett is considered antagonistic to abortion rights, a key issue for many Republicans.
Liberal groups strongly oppose Trump’s push to rush through a conservative appointment.
“We know whoever this president puts forward will be an offense to Justice Ginsburg’s legacy and her fight to ensure that women are treated fairly,” Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement, adding that a Trump appointee would likely target both abortion rights and the healthcare program known as Obamacare.
“We will fight with everything we have to stop any Supreme Court confirmation before the inauguration,” she said.
The American Civil Liberties Union also urged the Senate to postpone action until after the election.
Democratic leaders have vowed to do everything possible to prevent a confirmation vote before the election, but the 53-47 Republican majority in the Senate leaves them with few options.
A full bench
For Trump, nominating a conservative justice at this point is a way to fire up his base heading into November’s election.
Biden has strongly criticized the Republicans’ plans for a quick vote and appealed to senators not to act before the election.
On Friday, the former vice president traveled from his home in Delaware to Washington for a solemn ceremony in the US Capitol paying tribute to Ginsburg.
In a sign of the raw political feelings, Trump was booed by a crowd when he visited the Supreme Court on Thursday to pay respects to Ginsburg.
Trump has twice refused this week to clearly guarantee a peaceful transfer of power if he loses, evoking outrage from Democrats and seemingly increasing odds of a tense legal standoff.
Republican leaders have said that if the fate of a disputed election rests with the Supreme Court -- and Trump has warned without evidence that illegal mail-in ballots could “rig” the outcome -- a full bench of judges will be needed to prevent a deadlock.