Updated at 5:08 p.m. ET
President Trump says he will nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court, spurring what’s likely to be a bitter confirmation fight just weeks before the presidential election.
If confirmed by the Senate, the 48-year-old judge will solidify the court’s conservative majority, shaping the trajectory of health care law, abortion rights and many corners of American life for generations to come.
Trump appointed Barrett to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago just three years ago. Before that, she taught law at the University of Notre Dame for 15 years and clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia, widely seen by conservatives as a legal legend.
Barrett is admired by conservatives for her positions on abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act. A devout Catholic, she is also a favorite of religious conservatives. At 48, Barrett would be the youngest justice on the Supreme Court if confirmed, allowing her to potentially shape American law and society for generations.
Within hours of Ginsburg’s death last Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pledged to bring Trump’s nominee for a vote on the Senate floor. The president has made clear he wants his nominee approved by Election Day, predicting that the results of the presidential election may end up in front of the Supreme Court.
Democrats, including Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, say whoever wins in November should pick the next justice, citing McConnell’s successful effort in 2016 to block President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, about eight months before the election. Now, Trump is setting up a Supreme Court fight just over a month before the 2020 election.
While Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have said they do not support a vote on a nominee before the election, other Republican senators considered to be potential swing votes, including Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, announced they would support moving forward with a Supreme Court confirmation.
That support likely gives Trump the votes he will need to get his nominee on the bench. Still, Capitol Hill is bracing for a high-stakes political battle in the weeks and even days leading up to the election, spilling onto the campaign trail both in the presidential contest and for several tight Senate races.
The Democrats have already been framing the nomination as a battle to preserve health care — with a major challenge to the Affordable Care Act on the court’s schedule this fall — while Republicans see abortion as a salient issue to bolster support for Trump’s filling the seat as soon as possible.
Trump began promoting his forthcoming nomination the day after the court announced Ginsburg had died. During a rally in North Carolina last Saturday night, Trump promised to pick a woman for the seat, a nod to Ginsburg’s lifelong efforts to promote the equality of women under the law.
This week, thousands of mourners lined up outside the Supreme Court where Ginsburg’s casket lay in repose at the top of the court’s marble steps. On Friday, Ginsburg lay in state inside the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall, the first woman and the first Jewish American to receive such an honor.
Ginsburg will be buried at Arlington Cemetery on Tuesday, following the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur.