US President Donald Trump on Saturday nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, setting up a bitter political fight over her confirmation.
Trump announced his nomination at a White House event, calling Barrett “one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds”.
Barrett is 48 and will be the youngest justice on the court if confirmed. She has been a judge on the seventh circuit court of appeals since 2017, also as a Trump nominee.
Barrett’s confirmation, which is likely to go through, will give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court that will last a long time and will ensure President Trump an enduring legacy. Barrett will be the third justice he would have sent to the top court, tilting the ideological balance of the bench.
Though Democrats do not have the numbers to stop the confirmation, they will put up a fight that will play out in the final weeks leading up to the presidential election.
Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, called for the US senate to not act on Trump’s nomination until “after the American people select their next president and the next Congress”.
Biden also pointed to Barrett’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act, the Obama-era health insurance plan that Trump and Republicans have been trying to overturn.
Barrett’s judicial philosophy was molded by her mentor late Justice Antonin Scalia as she acknowledged in her speech accepting the nomination: “A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”
Barrett, who is a devout catholic and mother of seven children, including two adopted from Haiti, is considered to be anti-abortion, pro-gun and, as Biden pointed out, anti-Obamacare. Critics also say she is anti-immigrant and has supported President Trump’s wealth test for immigrants.
Republicans control the senate with a 53-47 majority are expected to fast-track the confirmation. Democrats cannot stop it unless they can peel away four Republican senators, and that appears unlikely. But they can use the confirmation hearing to score points, making it a bruising affair.