President Trump announced Saturday that he is nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, kicking off what is expected to be a tempestuous Senate confirmation battle less than six weeks before the November presidential election.
“Today it is my honor to nominate one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds to the Supreme Court. She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials, and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution, Judge Amy Coney Barrett,” Trump said at a press conference at the White House alongside Barrett.
“Amy Coney Barrett will decide cases based on the text of the Constitution as written,” Trump said. “As Amy has said, being a judge takes courage. You are not there to decide cases as you may prefer. You are there to do your duty and to follow the law, wherever it may take you.”
Barrett has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit since she was appointed by Trump in 2017. The 48-year-old Notre Dame law professor clerked for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and is a conservative Catholic mother of seven, including two adopted children from Haiti.
“Thank you very much, Mr. President. I am deeply honored by the confidence that you have placed in me,” Barrett said in her acceptance remarks. “I love the United States, and I love the United States Constitution. I am truly humbled by the prospect of serving on the Supreme Court.”
Barrett offered words of praise for her predecessor, Ginsburg, as well as Scalia, whom she called her “mentor.”
“His judicial philosophy is mine too,” she said of Scalia. “A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policy-makers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”
When she was nominated to be a judge on the Seventh Circuit, three Democratic senators supported Barrett’s confirmation, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and former senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana. Over the past week, Senate Democrats have expressed vehement opposition to her nomination to the Supreme Court, arguing that Ginsburg’s replacement should be chosen and confirmed by a new president and Senate after the general election.
Barrett’s Catholic faith has come under particular scrutiny by her critics, some of whom worry that she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide. Barrett’s supporters have accused those who oppose her nomination of exhibiting anti-Catholic bias.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has said that Trump’s nominee will receive a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Two of the Senate’s 53 Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have come out in opposition to holding a vote on Barrett’s nomination. The Senate needs only 50 votes to confirm her, with the tie-breaking vote in favor of Barrett cast by Vice President Mike Pence.
Ginsburg died last Friday at 87 due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. On Friday, she became the first woman in the history of the nation to lie in state in the Capitol.
Her death has upended the election cycle as Republicans work quickly to confirm a new justice and Democrats prepare to oppose Trump’s nominee to fill the late justice’s seat.
On Friday, Trump said he had made his decision but declined to confirm whether the nominee would be Barrett.
“I haven’t said it was her, but she is outstanding,” Trump said at Joint Base Andrews Friday evening.