Trump allies poised to rush through new justice Amy Coney Barrett
Barrett's confirmation would result in a 6-3 conservative majority on the court
US Senate Republicans on Sunday prepared a concerted push towards quickly confirming President Donald Trump’s third supreme court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, despite strenuous objections by Democrats who appear powerless to stop them.
At the White House on Saturday, Trump announced Barrett, 48, as his selection to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on September 18 at age 87.
Barrett said she would be a justice in the mould of the late staunch conservative Antonin Scalia. Her confirmation would result in a 6-3 conservative majority on the court.
Trump urged Republicans, who hold a 53-47 Senate majority, to confirm Barrett, a federal appeals court judge and a favourite of religious conservatives, by the election on November 3. Trump has said he expects the justices to have to resolve the outcome of the election in which he faces Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who has made confirming Trump’s judicial appointments a priority, said: “This nomination will receive a vote on the Senate floor in the weeks ahead.”
Barrett is expected to begin meetings with individual senators on Tuesday.
Trump said the Senate judiciary committee, chaired by his ally senator Lindsey Graham, would begin confirmation hearings on October 12.
Like Trump’s two other appointees, Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, Barrett is young enough that she could serve for decades in the lifetime job, leaving a lasting conservative imprint.
Trump was able to appoint Gorsuch to fill the vacancy left by Scalia’s 2016 death only because McConnell refused to let the Senate consider incumbent president Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, on the basis that it was an election year. Democrats now accuse him of hypocrisy.
Kavanaugh was confirmed after a tumultuous process during which a California university professor accused him of sexually assaulting her in 1983. Kavanaugh denied the allegation and portrayed himself as a victim of “an orchestrated political hit” by Democrats.
Biden and running mate Kamala Harris, a member of the judiciary committee, blasted Trump’s choice of Barrett, focusing on the threat they said she would pose to health care for millions of Americans.
Biden noted that even as Trump’s administration is seeking to strike down Obamacare in a case the supreme court is due to hear on November 10, Barrett has a “written track record” criticising a pivotal 2012 ruling authored by chief justice John Roberts preserving the health care law formally known as the Affordable Care Act.
If quickly confirmed, Barrett could be on the bench to hear that case.
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