WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Saturday, capping a dramatic reshaping of the federal judiciary that will resonate for a generation and that he hopes will provide a needed boost to his reelection effort.
Republican senators are already lining up for a swift confirmation of Barrett ahead of the Nov. 3 election, as they aim to lock in conservative gains in the federal judiciary before a potential transition of power. Trump, meanwhile, is hoping the nomination will serve to galvanize his supporters as he looks to fend off Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump hailed Barrett as “a woman of remarkable intellect and character,” saying he had studied her record closely before making the pick.
“I looked and I studied, and you are very eminently qualified,” he said as Barrett stood next to him in the Rose Garden.
An ideological heir to the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett would fill the seat vacated after the Sept. 18 death of liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsberg, in what would be the sharpest ideological swing since Clarence Thomas replaced Justice Thurgood Marshall nearly three decades ago. She would be the sixth justice on the nine-member court to be appointed by a Republican president, and the third of Trump’s first term in office.
For Trump, whose 2016 victory hinged in large part on reluctant support from conservative and white evangelicals on the promise of filling Scalia’s seat with a conservative, the latest nomination in some ways brings his first term full circle. Even before Ginsburg’s death, Trump was running on having confirmed in excess of 200 federal judges, fulfilling a generational aim of conservative legal activists.
“This is my third such nomination after Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh, and it is a very proud moment indeed,” Trump said in the Rose Garden.
Trump joked that the confirmation process ahead “should be easy” and “extremely noncontroversial,” though it is likely to be anything. No court nominee has been considered so close to a presidential election before, with early voting already underway. He encouraged Democrats to take up her nomination swiftly and to “refrain from personal and partisan attacks.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate will vote “in the weeks ahead” on Barrett’s confirmation, saying that Trump “could not have made a better decision” in nominating the appellate court judge.
Barrett said she was “truly humbled” by the nomination, adding that she would be “mindful of who came before me.” She praised Ginsburg upon accepting the nomination, saying, “She has won the admiration of women across the country and indeed all across the world.”
Within hours of Ginsburg’s death, Trump made clear he would nominate a woman for the seat, and later volunteered he was considering five candidates. But Barrett was the early favorite, and the only one to meet with Trump.
Barrett has been a judge since 2017, when Trump nominated her to the Chicago-based 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals. But as a longtime University of Notre Dame law professor, she had already established herself as a reliable conservative in the mold of Scalia, for whom she clerked in the late 1990s.