WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump is set to unveil his Supreme Court nominee on Saturday, barely five weeks out from the Nov 3 presidential election, with US media reporting that he has chosen conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett for the job.
If the 48-year-old law professor is indeed nominated and confirmed, her lifetime appointment would consolidate a conservative majority in the country’s top court, possibly for decades to come.
Citing sources close to the process, media outlets including The New York Times and CNN said Trump would put forward the judge, who is considered hostile to abortion rights, to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a progressive icon who died on September 18.
“We are going to be announcing somebody great,” the US president said in Virginia on a whirlwind three-state campaign tour.
Trump did not name his nominee, but he has previously called Barrett “outstanding.” An official announcement is expected at 5 pm on Saturday. The subject is certain to feature prominently on Tuesday, when Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden hold their first of three presidential debates.
Democrats including Biden have demanded that Republicans delay replacing Ginsburg, a champion of women’s rights, until after the election.
“Considering the fact that this Supreme Court nominee may serve on the court for 30 years, it is nothing short of outrageous that they want to approve her in fewer than 30 days,” Senator Dick Durbin, the Democratic whip, told CNN on Saturday.
Barrett would be the youngest justice on the court.
A majority of Americans — by 57 to 38 percent — oppose the push for confirmation before the election, according to a new Washington Post/ABC poll.
But leaders of the Republican majority in the Senate, which is tasked with confirming Supreme Court nominees, said they expect a vote either before the election or, at latest, during the ensuing “lame duck” session before the inauguration of the next president in January.
“We will certainly do that this year,” Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell has said.
If Barrett is confirmed, the Supreme Court would have a 6-3 conservative majority as it faces issues as divisive as abortion, gun rights and healthcare.
Barrett was first named to the bench in 2017. A deeply conservative Catholic and mother of seven — she would be the high court’s sixth Catholic — Barrett is considered antagonistic to abortion rights, a key issue for many Republicans.
Liberal groups strongly oppose Trump’s push to rush through a conservative appointment.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2020