Sun | Oct 25, 2020

Trump expected to announce conservative Barrett for court

Published:Friday | September 25, 2020 | 7:42 PM
FILE - In this May 19, 2018, file photo, Amy Coney Barrett, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit judge, speaks during the University of Notre Dame's Law School commencement ceremony at the university, in South Bend, Ind. Barrett, a front-runner to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has established herself as a reliable conservative on hot-button legal issues from abortion to gun control. (Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP, File)

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 election.

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, organising 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.

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.”

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 contenders.

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