Two reliably conservative appeals court judges have emerged as President Donald Trump’s favorites to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as Republicans look to cement a right-wing majority on the Supreme Court before November’s election.
Trump, who’s set to unveil his nominee at the White House on Saturday, is known to be mercurial and has kept conspicuously tight-lipped on his thought process since Ginsburg’s death at 87 last week.
But Trump has promised that the nominee will be a woman and, according to numerous reports, he is zeroing in on Illinois U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett and Florida U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Barbara Lagao.
Both judges were appointed to their current jobs by Trump and have made no bones about their deeply conservative views.
Barrett, 48, was on the short list of finalists for Trump’s second Supreme Court pick, which Justice Brett Kavanaugh ended up clinching after a grueling confirmation process hampered by allegations of a history of sexual assault.
She’s a devout Catholic mother of seven and a strong opponent of abortion, prompting liberals to fear that she could help overturn Roe v. Wade if she makes it onto the nation’s top bench.
During her Senate confirmation hearing to her current judgeship, Democrats pressed Barrett on the hot-button issue.
She explained that she takes her Catholic faith seriously, but that her “personal church affiliation” would “not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge.” Despite many Democrats voicing reservations about the veracity of that answer, Barrett was confirmed by a 55-43 margin.
Lagao, 52, is Cuban-American and portrayed by Trump’s supporters as a pick that could help him win Florida in the Nov. 3 election.
Trump has been falling behind Biden in Florida, and allies of the president hope nominating Lagao could curry favor with the battleground state’s sizable Hispanic population.
Lagao, who has a solidly conservative voting record, recently landed in the headlines for a controversial ruling that makes the right to vote for ex-felons in Florida contingent on them paying off all their court fees and fines. In light of that ruling, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged $16 million to help ex-felons in Florida pay off their dues.
Three other conservatives on Trump’s short-list of potential Ginsburg replacements are Michigan Supreme Court Judge Joan Larsen, Virginia U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Allison Jones Rushing and Kate Comerford Todd, a deputy counsel at the White House.
If picked, Comerford Todd would make history in that she has never previously served as a judge. Jones Rushing, meanwhile, would make history as the youngest Supreme Court nominee at 38 years old.
No matter who is chosen, Senate Democrats have vowed to fight to block the nominee.
They’re outraged by what they view as hypocrisy from their Republican colleagues, who are vowing to rush Trump’s pick through the confirmation process even though they refused to even consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016 because they claimed it was too close to that year’s election.
Obama nominated Garland 237 days before the 2016 election; Trump’s nominee will be announced just 38 days before this year’s election.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will lead the Democratic charge against Trump’s nominee, attended a ceremony for Ginsburg at the U.S. Capitol on Friday as she became the first woman in American history to lie in state there.
Along with a photo of himself standing before Ginsburg’s flag-draped casket, Schumer tweeted: “We are fighting for her legacy.”
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