President Donald Trump is likely to name conservative federal appeals court judge Amy Coney Barrett as the replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the US Supreme Court. Sources told Reuters on Friday that Trump has all but made up his mind on the nominee.
Trump has asked senate Republicans to confirm Barrett, a favorite of religious conservatives, before the Nov. 3 presidential election. If Barrett is confirmed by the Senate, the conservative strength in the Supreme Court will get another boost. However, with the Trump decision, the Senate is likely to witness heated arguments.
Barrett, 48, was appointed by Trump to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017. If confirmed to the lifetime post, she would become the fifth woman ever to serve on the high court while expanding its conservative majority to a rock-solid 6-3.
Her selection was viewed with alarm by liberal advocacy groups. Abortion rights groups have expressed concern that on the Supreme Court Barrett could help overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of the anti-abortion group Americans United For Life, praised Trump for making a "brave and ambitious choice" and called Barrett "the best and most qualified successor" to Ginsburg.
The other finalist mentioned by Trump to fill the vacancy was Barbara Lagoa, a Cuban-American federal appeals court judge from Florida who he appointed last year and who potentially could have boosted his chances in the key election battleground state. Trump said he did not meet with Lagoa during a campaign trip to Florida. He met with Barrett on Monday.
Trump plans a formal introduction of his nominee at the White House on Saturday. Two sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Trump plans to nominate Barrett, but cautioned that he could change his mind. Trump told reporters on Friday he had made his decision, but declined to reveal it.
Barrett previously served as a clerk to conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016.
As an appellate judge, Barrett has staked out conservative legal positions on key hot-button issues in three years on the bench, voting in favor of one of Trump's hardline immigration policies and showing support for expansive gun rights. She also authored a ruling making it easier for college students accused of campus sexual assaults to sue their institutions.