U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday nominated Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, giving him an opportunity to make the court more conservative, 38 days before the November 3 presidential election.”Today, it is my honor to nominate one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds to the Supreme Court … Judge Amy Coney Barrett,” Trump said to a gathering in the White House Rose Garden. “I looked and I studied, and you are very eminently qualified.”“Amy Coney Barrett will decide cases based on the text of the Constitution as written. As Amy has said, ‘Being a judge takes courage. You are not there to decide cases as you may prefer. You are there to do your duty and to follow the law wherever it may take you.’ That is exactly what Judge Barrett will do on the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said.Trump said he believed it “should be a straightforward and prompt confirmation,” and urged lawmakers and media to refrain from personal and partisan attacks on Barrett.Trump had promised to nominate a woman to succeed Ginsburg, who died last week at age 87.The president also noted that should Barrett, the mother of seven, be confirmed, she would be the first mother of school-age children to serve on the nation’s highest court. At age 48, she would also be the youngest judge on the nine-member Supreme Court.FILE – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at the memorial service for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, March 1, 2016, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.Ginsburg, ScaliaIn brief remarks, Barrett praised Ginsburg’s life of service, to women and the court.“Should I be confirmed, I will be mindful of who came before me. The flag of the United States is still flying at half-staff in memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to mark the end of a great American life. Justice Ginsburg began her career at a time when women were not welcome in the legal profession, but she not only broke glass ceilings, she smashed them,” Barrett said.Barrett, who was a clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia more than 20 years ago, said, “The lessons I learned still resonate. His judicial philosophy is mine, too — a judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement Saturday that said, “President Trump could not have made a better decision. Judge Amy Coney Barrett is an exceptionally impressive jurist and an exceedingly well-qualified nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States.”Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, in a statement issued Saturday, said, “Millions of Americans are already voting … because their health care hangs in the balance.”“President Trump has been trying to throw out the Affordable Care Act for four years. Republicans have been trying to end it for a decade. Twice, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law as constitutional,” Biden’s statement said. He added that Barrett “has a written track record of disagreeing with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act.”House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi echoed Biden in her statement, saying, “If this nominee is confirmed, millions of families’ health care will be ripped away in the middle of a pandemic that has infected 7 million Americans and killed over 200,000 people in our country.”House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted Saturday, “President Trump just knocked it out of the park with his Supreme Court nominee. There is no question that Amy Coney Barrett is the best-qualified person to uphold the Constitution.”President Donald Trump walks along the Colonnade with Judge Amy Coney Barrett to a news conference to announce her as his nominee to the Supreme Court, at the White House, Sept. 26, 2020.Confirmation hearingsThe Senate Judiciary Committee will begin holding confirmation hearings for Barrett the week of October 12, several media reports suggested. VOA could not confirm the media reports.Barrett will begin meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearings, if they follow recent confirmation proceedings, would last about four days.Later, when asked if he thought Barrett would be confirmed before Election Day, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said, “I’m not confident.” He then clarified, “That would be a discussion for the senators. I would believe that they’re going to try to move through the process and review her credentials in an expeditious manner. And if they do that, based on the resume that I’ve seen, hopefully she would get confirmed before the first of November.”The president’s decision to make an appointment ahead of his heated reelection contest with Biden instantly sparked a fierce political battle in Washington, with Senate Republican leaders arguing the confirmation process should proceed as quickly as possible and Democrats contending the nomination should be delayed until the winner of November’s presidential election is known.At stake is the political leaning of the Supreme Court, to which justices are appointed for life. The court had a 5-4 conservative majority before Ginsburg’s death. If a conservative justice is confirmed to replace Ginsburg, the conservative majority could shift to 6-3.Whoever fills Ginsburg’s vacant seat will play a role in making key Supreme Court decisions in the coming years on a range of important issues, likely including abortion rights, health care, gun laws, religious liberty, immigration and freedom of speech.Judge Amy Coney Barrett reacts as President Donald Trump announces her as his nominee to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat, at the White House in Washington, Sept. 26, 2020.Support for BarrettBarrett has drawn wide support from the conservative legal establishment in the United States.She is a 48-year-old devout Catholic who is very popular among conservative evangelical Christians, arguably Trump’s most loyal supporters.Barrett taught law at the University of Notre Dame, one of the most prominent U.S. Catholic universities, for 15 years before Trump named her in 2017 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, which covers the states of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.Religious conservatives hope Barrett would vote to overturn the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion rights in the United States. While Barrett has in the past expressed criticism of the ruling, she also said during her 2017 confirmation hearing to the appeals court that she would view previous Supreme Court rulings as binding precedent.Democrats opposed her confirmation in 2017, voicing concerns about the role she places on religion in her life. They cited comments Barrett made at Notre Dame, in which she said a “legal career is but a means to an end … and that end is building the kingdom of God.”Vice President Mike Pence told ABC News this week that Barrett faced “intolerance” about her faith in her last confirmation hearing.Trump’s Supreme Court nominee was his third, following Senate approval of two other conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both of which came after contentious confirmation hearings.VOA’s Steve Herman contributed to this report from the White House.
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