President Trump officially announced that he has selected Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to fill the vacancy of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, setting up a bitter Senate confirmation battle with just five weeks left until Election Day.
“I stand before you today to fulfill one of my highest and most important duties under the United States Constitution,” Trump said Saturday afternoon in a Rose Garden ceremony. “It is my honor to nominate one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds to the Supreme Court. She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials, and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution — Judge Amy Coney Barrett.”
“Amy Coney Barrett will decide cases based on the text of the constitution as written,” Trump added. “As Amy has said, being a judge takes courage. You are not there to decide cases as you may prefer. You are there to do your duty and to follow the law wherever it practice take you. That is exactly what Judge Barrett will do on the U.S. Supreme court.”
The President noted that Barrett, if confirmed will make history by becoming the first “mother with school-age children ever to serve as a Supreme Court justice.” He thanked Barrett’s seven children who were in attendance for the ceremony for “sharing your incredible mom with our country.”
It was widely reported Friday that Trump would be choosing Barrett and informed Senate Republicans and allies of his pick. Barrett, a judge Trump appointed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017 was first considered to fill the vacancy left by the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2018. The president, instead chose now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and said, according to Axios in 2019 that he had “big plans” for Barrett and was “saving her” to replace Ginsburg should the liberal Justice were to then-retire.
In brief remarks, Barrett paid respect to Ginsburg, honoring the late Justice as a woman who paved the road for others in the legal, saying not only did she “broke glass ceilings, she shattered them.”
“Justice Ginsburg began her career at a time when women were not welcome in the legal profession,” Barrett said. “But she not only broke glass ceilings, she shattered them. For that, she has won the admiration of women across the country and indeed all over the world. She was a woman of enormous talent and consequence, and her life of public service serves as an example to us all.”
She pledged, if confirmed to be a Justice that applies “the law as written,” and her “judicial philosophy” will model after her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whom she clerked for over 20 years ago.
“I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate. His judicial philosophy is mine too — A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold,” Barrett said. “I would discharge the judicial oath, which requires me to administer justice without respect to persons, do equal right to the poor and rich, and faithfully and impartially discharge my duties under the United States Constitution.”
Trump sarcastically joked that Barrett will have a “straightforward and prompt confirmation” with the process being “extremely non-controversial.”
“Judge Barrett was confirmed to the Circuit Court three years ago by a bipartisan vote. Her qualifications are unsurpassed and her record is beyond reproach,” Trump said. “This should be a straightforward and prompt confirmation. It’s going to be very quick. I’m sure it’ll be extremely non-controversial. We said that the last time, didn’t we?”
He urged Democratic Senators to provide Barrett with the “respectful and dignified hearing that she deserves,” and asked the media to “refrain from personal or partisan attacks.”
In a statement shortly after the announcement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) applauded Trump for picking Barrett, saying she is an “exceptionally impressive jurist and an exceedingly well-qualified nominee,” and called on his Senate colleagues on both sides to “treat this serious process with the dignity and respect.”
Senate Judiciary chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced late Saturday night the dates his committee will hold Barrett’s conformation hearing that is scheduled to begin on October 12. The hearings will be conducted over a three to four-days span, with the committee potentially planning to approve Barrett’s nomination to head to the Senate floor by October 19. A full Senate vote could potentially occur during the last week of October, officially confirming Barrett to the Supreme Court just days before the Nov. 3 election.
Since the passing of Ginsburg, Democrats have railed against Republicans and Trump “rushing” to fill Ginsburg’s seat less than 40 days before a presidential election. Shortly after the ceremony, Democrats practically all had identically response to Trump’s nomination, using fear tactics to portray Barrett’s confirmation as a threat to the Affordable Care Act as well as Roe v. Wade and criticized Senate Republicans for holding a confirmation vote ahead of Election Day.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) declared a vote for Barrett as “a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions.”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden highlighted Barrett’s critique of the “Supreme Court’s decision upholding” Obamacare as constitutional and called on the Senate not to act on her nomination until after “the American people select their next president and the next Congress.”
“President Trump has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the successor to Justice Ginsburg’s seat,” Biden said in a statement. “She has a written track record of disagreeing with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act. She critiqued Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion upholding the law in 2012.”
He added, “The American people know the U.S. Supreme Court decisions affect their everyday lives. The United States Constitution was designed to give the voters one chance to have their voice heard on who serves on the Court. That moment is now and their voice should be heard. The Senate should not act on this vacancy until after the American people select their next president and the next Congress.”
Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said she “strongly oppose the president’s nomination,” citing the next Justice is “set to determine the fate of protections for those with preexisting health conditions, and reproductive health options.”
Two Senate Democrats, Richard Blumenthal (CT) and Mazie Hirono (HI), who also are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee stated they will not meet with Barrett prior to the hearing.
“I will oppose the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, as I would any nominee proposed as part of this illegitimate sham process, barely one month before an election as Americans are already casting their votes. The American people deserve a voice in this hugely consequential decision,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “I refuse to treat this process as legitimate and will not meet with Judge Barrett.”
Despite virtually all of the Senate Democratic vowing to oppose Barrett’s nomination, McConnell has 51 confirmed votes from his caucus to move forward with the nomination. Currently, Collins is the only GOP to vocal say she will oppose any of Trump’s nominee ahead of the upcoming election.
If confirmed, Barrett will be Trump’s third Justice nominated to the Supreme Court in one presidential term, and cementing a conservative majority stronghold in the court for a generation.