Trump chooses ’eminently qualified’ Barrett for Supreme Court

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Saturday, wrapping up a dramatic overhaul of federal justice that will resonate for a generation and which he hopes will give his efforts a much-needed boost re-election. Barrett, a former clerk to the late Judge Antonin Scalia, said she was “really humbled” by the appointment and quickly aligned herself with Scalia’s law-conservative approach, saying “her judicial philosophy is also the mine ”.

Barrett, 48, was joined in the rose garden by her husband and seven children. If confirmed by the Senate, she would take the seat left vacant by liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It would be the sharpest ideological swing since Clarence Thomas replaced Judge Thurgood Marshall nearly three decades ago.

She would be the sixth judge from the nine-member tribunal to be appointed by a Republican president and the third in Trump’s first term.

Trump hailed Barrett as “a woman of remarkable intellect and character,” saying he studied her case closely before making the choice.

Republican senators are lining up for a quick confirmation from Barrett ahead of the Nov. 3 election as they aim to lock in Tory gains in the federal court system ahead of a possible transition of power. Trump, meanwhile, is hoping the nomination will galvanize his supporters as he seeks to fend off Democrat Joe Biden.

For Trump, whose victory in 2016 rested largely on reluctant white evangelical support for the promise to fill Scalia’s seat with a Tory, the latest appointment in some ways brings the loop of his first term. Even before Ginsburg’s death, Trump was chasing after confirming more than 200 federal judges, meeting a generational goal of conservative legal activists.

Trump joked that the upcoming confirmation process “should be easy” and “extremely uncontroversial”, although it is likely anything but. No court candidate has been considered so close to a presidential election before, with early voting already underway. He urged lawmakers to accept his nomination quickly and called on Democrats to “refrain from personal and partisan attacks.”

In 2016, Republicans blocked Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court to fill the election year vacancy, saying voters should have a say in the life nomination. Senate Republicans say they will go ahead this time, arguing that circumstances are different now that the White House and Senate are controlled by the same party.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will vote “in the coming weeks” on Barrett’s confirmation. Barrett is expected to make her first appearance on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, where she will meet McConnell; Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the judicial committee; and others, according to people familiar with his schedule but not authorized to discuss it. Hearings are scheduled to begin on October 12.

Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have warned that a vote to confirm Barrett in the high court would be a vote to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Schumer added that the president was once again putting “the health of Americans in the crosshairs” even as the coronavirus pandemic raged.

Biden has also taken this route of criticism, presenting Trump’s choice as yet another Republicans move to abolish the 2010 health care bill passed by his former boss, President Barack Obama. The court is expected to file an action against him this fall.

The set design of the Rose Garden, with large American flags hanging between the colonnades, appeared to be modeled on the decor of the White House when President Bill Clinton appointed Ginsburg in 1993.

Barrett, acknowledging that the flags were still lowered in recognition of Ginsburg’s death, said she “would be aware of who came before me. Although they have different judicial philosophies, Barrett praised Ginsburg as a pioneer for women and for her friendship with Scalia, saying, “She has won the admiration of women across the country and even all over the world. ”

Hours after Ginsburg’s death, Trump made it clear he would nominate a woman for the seat. Barrett was the first favorite and the only one to meet Trump.

Barrett has been a judge since 2017, when Trump appointed her to the Chicago-based 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals. But as a longtime law professor at the University of Notre Dame, she had already established herself as a reliable curator in the mold of Scalia, whom she had worked for in the late 1990s.

She is said to be the only judge on the current court not to have graduated in law from an Ivy League school. The current eight judges have all attended Harvard or Yale.

The staunch conservative had become known to Trump in large part after her bitter 2017 appeals court confirmation included allegations that Democrats were attacking his Catholic faith. The President also interviewed her in 2018 for the vacant post created by the retirement of Judge Anthony Kennedy, but Trump ultimately chose Brett Kavanaugh.

Trump and his political allies look forward to another fight against Barrett’s faith, viewing it as a political boon that would backfire on Democrats. Pennsylvania’s Catholic voters, in particular, are seen as a central demographic in the swing state that Biden, also a Catholic, is trying to recapture.

While Democrats seem powerless to prevent Barrett’s confirmation in the GOP-controlled Senate, they seek to use the process to weaken Trump’s chances of re-election.

Barrett’s appointment could become a judgment call on abortion, an issue that has divided many Americans so bitterly for nearly half a century. The idea of ​​spilling or dumping Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion, has animated activists on both sides for decades. Now, with the seemingly decisive change in the court’s ideological makeup, Democrats are hoping their constituents will show up in droves due to their frustration with Barrett’s choice.

“Judge Ginsburg has to turn around in her grave in Heaven, to see that whoever they’ve chosen seems to be intent on undoing everything Ginsburg has done,” Schumer said.

Trump has also increasingly embraced the High Court – on which he will have had a considerable hand in overhauling – as his insurance policy in close elections.

“We don’t have to do it before, but I think it will be done before the election,” Trump told reporters on Saturday. “I think that will send a great signal to a lot of people. ”

The increase in mail, absences and early votes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic has already led to a wave of electoral disputes, and Trump and Biden have assembled armies of lawyers to continue the fight once the count begins. Trump has been open to the idea of ​​tying his drive to appoint a third judge to the court with a potentially lengthy court battle over who will be sworn in on January 20, 2021.

“I think it will end in the Supreme Court,” Trump said Wednesday of the election. “And I think it’s very important that we have nine judges. ”

No Democratic senator is expected to vote to confirm Barrett ahead of the election, although some supported him in 2017.

Two Senate Democrats who voted to confirm Barrett in 2017, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, now say he is too close to the election to consider his nomination.

Meanwhile, outside conservative groups plan to spend more than $ 25 million supporting Trump and his candidate. The Judicial Crisis Network has organized a coalition that includes American First Policies, the Susan B. Anthony List, the Club for Growth and the Catholic Vote group to help confirm Barrett. The Republican National Committee has launched its own $ 10 million digital campaign, in conjunction with Trump’s re-election campaign.

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