Coney Barrett Seen as a Front-Runner for Trump Supreme Court Pick

Amy Coney Barrett, a federal appeals court judge, has emerged as a front-runner to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, according to people familiar with the discussions.

President Trump signaled Saturday morning that he would move to fill the vacancy on the high court “without delay,” raising the likelihood that the Senate will try to confirm a nominee before Election Day on Nov. 3 or during a lame-duck session.

Others said to be under consideration for the Ginsburg vacancy include Amul Thapar, Barbara Lagoa and Allison Jones Rushing, all of whom are Trump appointees to federal appellate benches.

One source familiar with the discussions cautioned that it’s not a “forgone conclusion” that Barrett will be the pick. A decision is expected in the coming days, they said, and the process is moving quickly.

Another source with knowledge of the process said there is a growing interest among a number of senators as well as some members of the White House staff in having an announcement on the choice before the first presidential debate on Sept. 29.

The source said that Barrett and Lagoa have received significant attention and support among senators and conservative leaders and will almost certainly be very seriously considered by the president. The source also said that Rushing has received support from evangelicals and that Thapar has been mentioned and is someone the president is familiar with. Still, the process remains extremely fluid.

Barrett was a favorite among conservatives in 2018 when Trump was mulling who to nominate to fill then-Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat before he ultimately went with Brett Kavanaugh. But multiple sources indicated she is gaining traction as a likely choice for Trump this time around.

Axios reported in 2019 that Trump told aides he was “saving” Barrett as a potential replacement for Ginsburg.

The 48-year-old judge was included on Trump’s updated list of potential Supreme Court nominees released in 2017. He expanded that list earlier this month.

One source close to the White House said Barrett would have the backing of conservatives in government and outside groups that would throw their muscle behind her nomination.

Judicial Crisis Network spent millions of dollars in support of Kavanaugh’s nomination in 2018 and is expected to be a major player in rallying support for Trump’s eventual nominee to replace Ginsburg.

Barrett, a former clerk for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, was nominated by Trump to serve on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017. She was confirmed in a 55-43 vote by the Senate later that year. At the time, three Democratic senators supported her nomination: Joe Donnelly (Ind.), who subsequently lost his 2018 reelection bid, Tim Kaine (Va.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.).

Kaine’s office noted in 2018 when Barrett was receiving speculation as a potential Supreme Court pick that the Democratic senator viewed supporting her for a circuit seat and voting on a Supreme Court seat as two significantly different decisions.

“A Supreme Court nomination is qualitatively different from one to a lower court,” a spokeswoman for Kaine said at the time.

Barrett’s 2017 nomination was backed by every GOP senator at the time, a factor that could put pressure on swing Republicans to back her if she’s picked for the country’s highest court.

But picking Barrett would all but guarantee an explosive confirmation fight in the Senate and feed a broader all-out culture war months before an election in which Republicans are battling to keep control of Congress and the White House.

Barrett would also face scrutiny over her previous statements on ObamaCare’s birth control mandate, which she called a “grave violation of religious freedom.”

She’s also questioned the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade and the court’s deference to legal precedent — raising the prospect that she would be more likely than other picks to vote to rein in or even overturn the 1973 decision legalizing abortion.

During the term that ended in July, the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana abortion restriction when Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberal justices, including Ginsburg, to form a bare 5-4 majority. Barrett’s replacement of Ginsburg would make it more likely the court upholds state limits on abortion in the future.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) would be viewed as immediate swing votes. Collins said in 2018 that she would not support a nominee who is “hostile” to Roe v. Wade.

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Source: The Hill