Setting up an unprecedented confirmation fight just before the 2020 elections, President Donald Trump on Saturday nominated federal appeals court judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Today it is my honor to nominate one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds to the Supreme Court,” as the President introduced Barrett and her family to loud cheers in the White House Rose Garden.
“She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution,” President Trump added.
“You are going to be fantastic, really fantastic,” the President told Barrett.
Noting the presence of various Republican Senators in the audience, the President urged quick action on Barrett’s nomination, and a ‘dignified’ hearing.
“Her qualifications are unsurpassed,” the President said. “This should be a straightforward and prompt confirmation.”
In her Rose Garden remarks, Barrett said she would follow in the footsteps of Justice Antonin Scalia, well known for his conservative legal views.
“His judicial philosophy is mine too,” Barrett said of Scalia.
“A judge must apply the law as written,” Barrett said of Scalia’s beliefs, which she learned first-hand while clerking for Scalia at the U.S. Supreme Court over 20 years ago.
“Judges are not policy makers and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold,” Barrett noted, saying she would certainly adopt that belief of Scalia.
Barrett also noted Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose death last week opened this seat on the Court.
““Should I be confirmed, I will be mindful of who came before me,” Barrett said.
Barrett, a favorite in conservative legal circles, was nominated by President Trump for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017; her Supreme Court confirmation is the closest ever to a presidential election.
Barrett’s nomination comes with just over five weeks until Election Day, and with voting already underway in a number of states.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden joined many Democrats in immediately raising questions about how Barrett would impact the future of the Affordable Care Act, as the Obama health law faces another legal challenge in November before the Supreme Court.
Even before the President’s formal announcement, Democrats made clear their opposition to a Senate vote before the elections.
“No confirmation before the inauguration,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
But Republicans scoffed at such talk.
“The Senate will move forward on the Supreme Court nomination without delay,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).
Barrett’s nomination would by far be the closest to the election ever dealt with by the U.S. Senate.
In 1888, 1892 and 1916, Justices were confirmed to the Court by the Senate in late July, just over three months before nationwide elections for the White House.
The latest was Justice George Shiras, Jr., nominated by President Benjamin Harrison, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on on July 26, 1892, a little over three months before the elections.
Harrison lost that election to Grover Cleveland.