Amy Coney Barrett 'to be picked by Trump for Supreme Court'

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US President Donald Trump is reportedly to appoint Amy Coney Barrett, a social conservative favorite, as the new Supreme Court Justice.

The president’s decision, due to be announced at the White House on Saturday, has been confirmed to the BBC’s US partner, CBS News, and other US media outlets.

It would replace the liberal judiciary Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away last Friday.

The nomination will spark a fierce battle in the Senate to endorse it when the November presidential election comes up.

CBS reported, citing multiple sources involved in or familiar with the selection process, that the president had chosen Judge Barrett.

But when Mr Trump was asked about his election on Friday night, he refused to reveal anything: “They will find out tomorrow. See, they are all great. It could be any of them.”

  • Ginsburg is the first US woman to reside in the state

If Judge Barrett is confirmed, conservative judges will hold a 6-3 majority in the US Supreme Court for the foreseeable future.

The 48-year-old would be the third judiciary appointed by this Republican president after Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

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The Supreme Court’s nine justices serve life-long appointments, and their decisions can sway public order in everything from gun and voting rights to abortion and campaign finance long after the presidents they appoint leave office.

In recent years, the court has expanded gay marriage to all 50 states, introduced Mr Trump’s travel ban to primarily Muslim countries, and delayed a U.S. plan to reduce carbon emissions.

Difficult position for Democrats

Amy Coney Barrett has been on Donald Trump’s shortlist for Supreme Court vacancies for some time, but it has been said she would be the most suitable replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

As of last week, that was no longer a hypothetical scenario.

Even before Mr Trump was reportedly making Judge Barrett his election, Conservatives were gathering around the candidate, whoever it was. And if they stick together, as all but two seem to be doing, their confirmation seems to be certain – be it before the November election or afterwards in a Senate session with “lame duck”.

The election of Judge Barrett puts the Democrats in a difficult position. You need to find a way to undermine support for the candidate without attacking her Catholic faith or personal background – measures that could risk knocking out some voters in November. They will try to delay the trial as much as possible while continuing to focus on issues such as health care and abortion, which could be the focus of future litigation with Justice Barrett in a conservatively dominated court.

Then they have to hope that Judge Barrett or the Republicans make a critical mistake. It’s a big job, but right now it’s the only piece they have.

Who Is Amy Coney Barrett?

She is described as a devout Catholic who, according to a 2013 article, said that “life begins at conception”. This makes her a favorite among religious conservatives looking to overturn the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion nationwide.

Her connections to a particularly conservative Christian faith group, People of Praise, have been widely discussed in the US press. LGBT groups have indicated that the group’s school network contains guidelines that believe that sexual relationships should only take place between heterosexual couples.

One such group, the Human Rights Campaign, has opposed Judge Barrett’s confirmation, declaring it an “absolute threat to the rights of LGBTQ people”.

She has repeatedly insisted that her beliefs do not interfere with her work.

Judge Barrett has also ruled in favor of President Trump’s tough immigration policy and advocated far-reaching gun rights.

Conservatives hope it will help invalidate Obamacare, the health insurance program instituted by President Trump’s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

About 20 million Americans could lose their health insurance if the court repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Democrats have rallied support on the issue, but the Supreme Court is unlikely to rule on the ACA before the November 3rd election.

Judge Barrett, who was nominated by Mr. Trump for the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, was confirmed by the Senate in October 2017 after a tough trial with 55 votes to 43. She was one of the names the President considered in 2017 to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.

After graduating from Notre Dame University Law School in Indiana, she worked as a clerk for the late Judge Antonin Scalia, who passed away in 2016. She was a law scholar at Notre Dame for around 15 years.

She was born in New Orleans and is married to a former federal attorney in South Bend, Indiana. They have seven children together.

Two of them were adopted from Haiti and their youngest child has Down syndrome.

Fight for the Supreme Court

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Will Judge Barrett be confirmed?

The White House has started liaising with the Republican Senate offices to arrange meetings with the candidate next week, two sources familiar with the planning told CBS.

The courtesy calls are expected to begin on Wednesday. The candidate will then be grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which includes 22 Republicans and Democrats.

The hearings usually last three to five days. The committee members then vote on whether the nomination should be sent to the entire Senate. In this case, all 100 senators will vote to approve or disapprove.

Republicans have a slim majority of 53 Senators in the Chamber, but they already appear to have the 51 votes they need to endorse Judge Barrett.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to hold a confirmatory vote ahead of the November 3rd White House election.

Aside from one surprise, the Democrats appear to have few procedural options to keep them from sliding through the Senate to the Supreme Court bench.

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Why is the nomination controversial?

Since Ginsburg’s death, Republican senators have been accused of hypocrisy for promoting a Supreme Court nomination during an election year.

In 2016, McConnell refused to hold hearings for Merrick Garland, Democratic President Barack Obama’s candidate for the court.

The nomination, which came 237 days before the election, was successfully blocked as Republicans held the Senate, arguing that the decision should be made outside of an election year.

Now 39 days before the 2020 election, Democrats say Republicans should stand by their previous position and let voters decide.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Trump’s effort to appoint a judiciary was an “abuse of power”.

A Reuters / Ipsos opinion poll conducted after Ginsburg’s death found that 62% of adults in the United States believed the job should be filled by the presidential winner, while 23% disagreed and the rest said they disagreed for sure.