President Donald Trump will reportedly nominate a reliably conservative appeals court judge from Illinois as his pick to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, paving the way for what promises to be one of the most contentious confirmation battles in recent memory.
Trump, who’s expected to unveil his pick at the White House on Saturday, set his mind on U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett late Friday, according to reports from The New York Times and several other news outlets.
The White House declined to comment, and Trump is known to be mercurial, but sources said he made up his mind after meeting with Barrett in the Oval Office earlier this week.
Barrett, 48, was on the short-list of finalists for Trump’s second Supreme Court pick, which Justice Brett Kavanaugh ended up clinching after a grueling confirmation process hampered by allegations of a history of sexual assault.
She’s a devout Catholic mother of seven and a strong opponent of abortion, prompting liberals to fear that she could help overturn Roe v. Wade if she makes it onto the Supreme Court bench.
Trump picked Barrett to her current job on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago.
During her Senate confirmation hearing to her 7th Circuit judgeship, Democrats pressed Barrett on the hot-button issue.
She explained that she takes her Catholic faith seriously, but that her “personal church affiliation” would “not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge.” Despite many Democrats voicing reservations about the veracity of that answer, Barrett was confirmed by a 55-43 margin.
One of the other picks under consideration by Trump is Barbara Lagao, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th circuit in Florida.
Lagao, 52, is Cuban-American and portrayed by Trump’s supporters as a pick that could help him win Florida in the Nov. 3 election.
Trump has been falling behind Biden in Florida, and allies of the president say nominating Lagao could curry favor with the critical battleground state’s sizable Hispanic population.
Lagao, who has a solidly conservative voting record, recently landed in the headlines for a controversial ruling that makes the right to vote for ex-felons in Florida contingent on them paying off all their court fees and fines. In light of that ruling, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged $16 million to help ex-felons in Florida pay off their dues.
No matter who is chosen, Senate Democrats have vowed to fight to block the nominee.
They’re outraged by what they view as hypocrisy from their Republican colleagues, who are vowing to rush Trump’s pick through the confirmation process even though they refused to even consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016 because they claimed it was too close to that year’s election.
Obama nominated Garland 237 days before the 2016 election; Trump’s nominee will be announced 38 days before this year’s election.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will lead the Democratic charge against Trump’s nominee, attended a ceremony for Ginsburg at the U.S. Capitol on Friday as she became the first Jewish woman in American history to lie in state there.
Along with a photo of himself standing before Ginsburg’s flag-draped casket, Schumer tweeted: “We are fighting for her legacy.”
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