President Donald Trump on Saturday announced that his Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy caused by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death will be a ‘very talented, very brilliant woman’ as ‘I like women more than I like men’.
During a campaign rally in North Carolina on Saturday night that Trump branded a ‘protest’, he declared ‘I will be putting forth a nominee this week, it will be a woman’.
Before he left the White House for the rally, Trump had named two conservative women who he has elevated to federal appeals courts as contenders, a move that would tip the court further to the right.
Trump, who now has a chance to nominate a third justice to a lifetime appointment on the court, named Amy Coney Barrett, 48, of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa, 52, of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees.
He praised Lagoa, in particular, as an ‘extraordinary person’.
According to CNN, a source said that the announcement of the nomination could rely on when Ginsburg’s burial takes place.
President Trump said Saturday his Supreme Court nominee is most likely to be a woman
‘I have a shortlist, I’ve had a shortlist for a while. We added a number of people onto the list, the previous list, we have about 45 altogether. I do indeed have a short list,’ Trump answered to a reporter’s question before he left the White House by plane
‘I’ve gotten to know many of them. I think it’s probably, from a legal standpoint, from a sophisticated understanding of the law, from a constitutional standpoint, I think it’s probably the greatest list ever assembled and I think that the other side should show their radical left list and you’d be surprised,’ Trump added.
During his rally, as the crowd chanted ‘Fill the Seat’, Trump promised ‘that’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to fill the seat’.
He added that the constitution states: ‘The president shall nominate Justices of the Supreme Court, I don’t think it can be any more clear, can it?’
Trump claimed that despite the tight deadline before voters cast their ballots on November 3, there was still enough time for the Senate review process on a nomination to take place.
‘Twenty-nine times a vacancy opened during an election year and every single time the sitting president made a nomination. That included George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or perhaps you’ve heard of him, the great Abraham Lincoln.
‘Twenty-nine times, every single time, nobody said “let’s not fill the seat”.
‘We have plenty of time,’ he added.
Earlier in the day, when pushed about whether the nominee would be a woman, the president answered: ‘I could see most likely it would be a woman I think I can say that. If somebody were to ask me now I would say that a woman would be in first place. The choice of a woman would be appropriate.’
Even before Ginsburg’s death, Trump had made public a list of potential nominees.
Barrett has generated perhaps the most interest in conservative circles. A devout Roman Catholic, she was a legal scholar at Notre Dame Law School in Indiana before Trump appointed her to the 7th Circuit in 2017.
A Barrett nomination would likely ignite controversy, as her strong conservative religious views have prompted abortion-rights groups to say that if confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she would likely vote to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
When questioned about her Saturday evening, Trump said: ‘She’s very highly respected, I can say that.’
Amy Coney Barrett is among the frontrunners. She has generated perhaps the most interest in conservative circles. A devout Roman Catholic, she was a legal scholar at Notre Dame Law School in Indiana before Trump appointed her to the 7th Circuit in 2017
Trump praised Hispanic judge Barbara Lagoa as an ‘extraordinary person’
Lagoa has served on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for less than a year after being appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate on an 80-15 vote. Prior to that she also spent less than a year in her previous position as the first Latina to serve on the Florida Supreme Court.
She previously spent more than a decade as a judge on an intermediate appeals court in Florida.
‘She’s an extraordinary person, I’ve heard incredible things about her. She’s Hispanic and highly respected,’ Trump said of Lagoa.
Another candidate Trump has considered previously is Amul Thapar. He was a district court judge in Kentucky – the first federal judge of South Asian descent – before Trump appointed him to the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit in 2017.
Ginsburg’s death on Friday from cancer after 27 years on the court handed Trump, who is seeking re-election on November 3, the opportunity to expand its conservative majority to 6-3 at a time of a gaping political divide in America.
Conservative activists for years have sought to get enough votes on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. During the 2016 campaign, Trump promised to appoint justices who would overturn that decision.
But the court in July, even with its conservative majority, struck down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law on a 5-4 vote.
Who is Amy Coney Barrett?
On Saturday afternoon, Trump named Amy Coney Barrett, 48, of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa, 52, of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees.
Emerging as the favorite is Barrett, 48, a mother of seven, including two adopted from Haiti and one with special needs.
Her involvement in a cult-like Catholic group where members are assigned a ‘handmaiden’ has caused concern in Barret’s nomination to other courts and is set to come under fierce review again if she is Trump’s pick.
Barrett emerges now as a front runner after she was already shortlisted for the nomination in 2018 which eventually went to Brett Kavanaugh.
Trump called the federal appellate court judge ‘very highly respected’ when questioned about her Saturday.
Born in New Orleans in 1972, she was the first and only woman to occupy an Indiana seat on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Married to Jesse M. Barrett, a partner at SouthBank Legal in South Bend and former Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, the couple have five biological and two adopted children.
Their youngest biological child has special needs.
Barrett’s strong Christian ideology makes her a favorite of the right but her involvement in a religious group sometimes branded as a ‘cult’ is set to be harshly criticized.
In 2017, her affiliation to the small, tightly knit Christian group called People of Praise caused concern while she was a nominee for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
The New York Times reported that the practices of the group would surprise even other Catholics with members of the group swearing a lifelong oath of loyalty, called a covenant, to one another.
They are also assigned and held accountable to a personal adviser, called a ‘head’ for men and a ‘handmaid’ for women and believe in prophecy, speaking in tongues and divine healings.
The group deems that husbands are the heads of their wives and should take authority over the family while ‘the heads and handmaids give direction on important decisions, including whom to date or marry, where to live, whether to take a job or buy a home, and how to raise children,’ the Times reported.
Unmarried members are placed living with married couples members often look to buy or rent homes near other members.
Founded in 1971, People of Praise was part of the era’s ‘great emergence of lay ministries and lay movements in the Catholic Church,’ founder Bishop Peter Smith told the Catholic News Agency.
Beginning with just 29 members, it now has an estimated 2,000.
According to CNA, some former members of the People of Praise allege that leaders exerted undue influence over family decision-making, or pressured the children of members to commit to the group.
Founder Smith rejected there was anything out of the ordinary about the group. Its policy is that it does not disclose membership and it is not known of Barrett is still a member.
Current and former members told the Times that not only were Barrett and her family members but her father was a leader.
They also reported that the Barretts had made attempts to removed evidence of their participation in the group.
During her professional career, Barrett spent two decades as a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, from which she holds her bachelor’s and law degrees.
A former clerk for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, she was nominated by Trump to serve on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017 and 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.), according to the Hill.
She was backed by every GOP senator at the time, but she did not disclose her relationship with People of Praise which led to later criticism of her appointment.
Barret is well-regarded by the religious right because of this devout faith.
Yet these beliefs are certain to cause problems with her conformation and stand in opposition to the beliefs of Ginsburg, who she would be replacing.
Axios reported in 2019 that Trump told aides he was ‘saving’ Barrett to replace Ginsburg.
Her deep Catholic faith was cited by Democrats as a large disadvantage during her 2017 confirmation hearing for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
‘If you’re asking whether I take my faith seriously and I’m a faithful Catholic, I am,’ Barrett responded during that hearing, ‘although I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge.’
Republicans now believe that she performed well in her defense during this hearing, leaving her potentially capable of doing the same if facing the Senate Judicaiary Committee.
She is a former member of the Notre Dame’s ‘Faculty for Life’ and in 2015 signed a letter to the Catholic Church affirming the ‘teachings of the Church as truth.’
Among those teachings were the ‘value of human life from conception to natural death’ and marriage-family values ‘founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman’.
She has previously written that Supreme Court precedents are not sacrosanct. Liberals have taken these comments as a threat to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide.
Barrett wrote that she agrees ‘with those who say that a justice’s duty is to the Constitution and that it is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks clearly in conflict with it’.
Among the other statements that have cause concern for liberal are her declaration that ObamaCare’s birth control mandate is ‘grave violation of religious freedom.’
LGBTQ organizations also voiced their concern about her when she was first named on the shortlist.
The two justices already appointed by Trump were Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation process was particularly heated, as he faced accusations by a California university professor, Christine Blasey Ford, that he had sexually assaulted her in 1982 when the two were high school students in Maryland.
Kavanaugh angrily denied those accusations and was narrowly confirmed.
Any nomination would require approval in the Senate, where Trump’s Republicans hold a 53-47 majority.
Trump hopes to rush through the nomination process within the next 45 days before the election so he can secure a heavily conservative sway on the court whether or nt he wins a second term.
‘We’re working with all the Republican senators, working with Mitch McConnell and will be making a decision,’ he said Saturday evening.
‘I think before would be very good, we’ll be making a decision I think the process can go very very fast, I’ll be making by choice soon and when the choice is made I’ll be sending it over to Mitch and the Senate and they’ll do what they have to do. We’ll have a very popular choice whoever that may be but we’ll be sending it to the Senate
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death has left a crucial vacancy on the Supreme Court
‘I think the choice will be next week I do,’ he added.
Earlier in the day, he had hit back at backlash as Democrats and several Republicans claimed the nomination process could wait.
‘We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices,’ Trump said on Twitter Saturday.
‘We have this obligation, without delay!’
Not all Republican senators supported the move: Maine’s Susan Collins on Saturday said Trump should hold off on nominating.
‘In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd,’ Collins, facing a tough re-election race herself, said on Twitter.
Democrats are still seething over the Republican Senate’s refusal to act on Democratic President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, in 2016 after conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died 10 months before that election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said then that the Senate should not act on a court nominee during an election year, a stance he has since reversed.
Even if Democrats win the White House and a Senate majority in the November election, Trump and McConnell have time as the full new Congress would not be sworn in until Jan. 3
Who is Barbara Lagoa?
Barbara Lagoa , 52, was named by Trump as one of his potential nominees to the Supreme Court.
A Cuban American who parents came to the U.S., Lagoa was born in Miami in 1967. She grew up in the largely Cuban American city of Hialeah.
If nominated to the nation’s high court by Trump and confirmed by the Senate, the mother of three daughters would be the second Latino justice to ever serve.
She served on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for less than a year after being appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate on an 80-15 vote
Prior to that she also spent less than a year in her previous position as the first Latina and Cuban American to serve on the Florida Supreme Court.
Lagoa is considered a protégé of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a close Trump ally.
Her position in crucial swing state Florida could help Trump politically.
Last week, she voted in the majority in a ruling that barred hundreds of thousands of Florida felons who have served their time from voting unless they pay fees and fines owed to the state.
This decision could have a major impact on the presidential race as Florida is often won by a candidate by only razor-thin margins.
‘Florida’s felon re-enfranchisement scheme is constitutional,’ Lagoa wrote in a 20-page concurrence, according to USA Today.
‘It falls to the citizens of the state of Florida and their elected state legislators, not to federal judges, to make any additional changes to it.’
In 2000 Lagoa was one of a dozen mostly pro bono lawyers who represented the Miami family of Elián González, a Cuban citizen who became embroiled in a heated international custody and immigration controversy.
Lagoa is a graduate of Florida International University and Columbia University Law.
She is is a member of the conservative Federalist Society, which stresses that judges should ‘say what the law is, not what it should be.’
She is married to lawyer Paul C. Huck Jr., and her father-in-law is United States District Judge Paul Huck
Senior congressional Democrats raised the prospect of adding additional justices next year to counterbalance Trump’s nominees if they win control of the White House and Senate in the November election.
McConnell, who has made confirmation of Trump’s federal judicial nominees a top priority, said the chamber would vote on any Trump nominee.
Given that they have few tools to block the eventual nomination from passing, Democrats plan to try to rally public opposition to the move.
‘The focus needs to be showing the public what’s at stake in this fight. And what’s at stake is really people’s access to affordable healthcare, workers’ rights and women’s rights,’ said Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen in a telephone interview.
Obama himself on Saturday called on Senate Republicans to honor what he called that ‘invented’ 2016 principle.
‘A basic principle of the law – and of everyday fairness – is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what´s convenient or advantageous in the moment,’ Obama said in a statement posted online.
Republicans risk the possibility of liberals embracing more radical proposals should Trump replace Ginsburg but Democrats win November’s election, with some activists on the left suggesting even before Ginsburg’s death that the number of justices on the court should be expanded to counter Trump’s appointees.
‘Let me be clear: if Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year,’ Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told fellow Democrats on a Saturday conference call, according to a source who listened to the call.
House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler on Saturday said that rushing a court pick through the Senate if Democrats win in November would be ‘undemocratic.’
He said in a Twitter post that doing so would mean ‘Congress would have to act and expanding the court would be the right place to start.’
Confirmation votes could also put more pressure on incumbent Republican senators in competitive election races, including Collins and Arizona’s Martha McSally, at a time when Democrats are eying a chance to win control of that chamber. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who is not up for re-election this cycle, also could play a pivotal role.
She told local media on Friday, prior to Ginsburg’s death, that she would not vote for a Supreme Court nominee so close to the election.
WHO’S WHO ON TRUMP’S SUPREME COURT SHORTLIST
Ted Cruz, Texas. 49
Josh Hawley, Missouri. 40
Tom Cotton, Arkansas. 43
Bridget Bade, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 54
Stuart Kyle Duncan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. 48
James Ho, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 47
Gregory Katsas, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. 56
Barbara Lagoa, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. 52
Carlos Muñiz, Supreme Court of Florida. 51
Martha Pacold, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. 41
Peter Phipps, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. 47
Sarah Pitlyk, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. 43
Allison Jones Rushing, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. 38
Lawrence VanDyke, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 47
CURRENT AND FORMER REPUBLICAN OFFICIALS
Daniel Cameron, Kentucky Attorney General. 34
Paul Clement, partner with Kirkland & Ellis, former solicitor general. 54
Steven Engel, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. 46
Noel Francisco, former U.S. solicitor general. 51
Christopher Landau, U.S. ambassador to Mexico. 56
Kate Todd, deputy White House counsel. 45