CBS News and other outlets were reporting on Friday that they had confirmed list-topper Amy Coney Barrett would be President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick when he makes his formal announcement on Saturday.
Reports said the White House had begun reaching out to Republican senators to schedule meetings with the judge when Congress reconvenes on Wednesday following a two-day break for the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.
Barrett, 48, currently serves on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals but has been considered a favored pick for the Supreme Court since early in Trump’s presidency.
She was floated as the likely backup choice after Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s contentious hearing raised the possibility that the Senate might not confirm him.
Barrett’s status as a woman should help to insulate her somewhat from the sort of specious rape hoaxes endured by justices Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas during their confirmation hearings.
Filling the seat vacated by liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she would be the second Republican-appointed woman following Ronald Reagan’s appointment of Sandra Day O’Connor, and the fifth woman overall on the court.
Barrett is well known for her devout Catholic faith, which Democrats sought to hammer her for during her confirmation to the appellate court.
Catholic voters in Pennsylvania, in particular, are viewed as a pivotal demographic in the swing state that Democratic nominee Joe Biden, nominally Catholic, is trying to recapture.
Vice President Mike Pence defended Barrett when asked whether her affiliation with People of Praise, a charismatic Christian community, would complicate her ability to serve on the high court.
“I must tell you the intolerance expressed during her last confirmation about her Catholic faith I really think was a disservice to the process and a disappointment to millions of Americans,” he told ABC News.
The pick also is likely to fire up the key anti-abortion contingent of the Republican base in the lead-up to the November election.
However, it is just as likely to mobilize radical pro-abortion forces who already have ratched up the rhetoric threatening to “burn down” the entire democratic system for refusing to capitulate to their demands.
Activists linked with the domestic terror group Antifa were arrested for suspected arson in connection with several of the out-of-control wildfires that have ravaged the Pacific Northwest.
Trump told reporters Friday evening that he had made a decision but did not reveal his pick.
The choice of Barrett, if confirmed by the Senate, would allow Trump to put a historic stamp on the high court just weeks before the election.
Trump said his choice was “very exciting,” without giving away the name, but Republican allies said it would be Barrett.
“Well I haven’t said it was her, but she’s outstanding,” Trump said of the Indiana federal judge.
Conservative groups and congressional allies are laying the groundwork for a swift confirmation process for her, even before Trump makes the selection official in a Rose Garden ceremony Saturday evening.
They, like the president, are wasting little time, organizing multimillion-dollar ad campaigns and marshalling supporters both to confirm the pick and to boost Trump to a second term.
Senate Republicans are readying for confirmation hearings in two weeks, with a vote in the full chamber now expected before Election Day. Democrats are essentially powerless to block the votes
“I’m confident he’s going to make an outstanding nomination,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News. “The American people are going to take a look at this nominee and conclude, as we are likely to conclude, that she well deserves to be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
“They’re hell-bent on getting this done as fast as possible,” said Democratic Senate whip Dick Durbin. “They think it helps Donald Trump get reelected.”
Outside conservative groups, who have been preparing for this moment for 40 years, are planning to spend more than $25 million to support Trump and his nominee.
The Judicial Crisis Network has organized a coalition that includes American First Policies, the Susan B. Anthony List, the Club for Growth and the group Catholic Vote.
“One of the things we’ve learned from the histories of confirmation processes, the intensity of the fight has more to do with the previous occupant of the seat than who the nominee is,” said JCN’s Carrie Severino. “We expect this to be a very high stakes confirmation.”
The White House has already concluded a round of vetting this month, as Trump released an additional 20 names he would consider for the court. He has challenged Democrat Joe Biden to list possible nominees, too.
Trump had said he was considering five women for the opening, but Barrett was at the White House at least twice this week, including for a Monday meeting with Trump. He is not known to have met with any of the other contenders.
Barrett’s appointment would transform the court from a divided 4-4 between conservatives and liberals, with Chief Justice John Roberts as a liberal-leaning swing vote, to one in which five members are conservative-leaning.
Barrett has been hailed as a justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia, for whom she clerked.
Trump played up the power to make judicial nominations with conservative voters in 2016, when Republican senators kept open the seat vacated by the death of Scalia rather than let President Barack Obama fill the opening.
Trump’s decision to release lists of accomplished conservative jurists for potential elevation was rewarded by increased enthusiasm among white evangelical voters, many of whom had been resistant to supporting the candidacy of the one-time New York Democrat.
“This is big jet fuel on our base,” said Bill Schuette, a former Michigan attorney general and now a Trump campaign surrogate.
“This is going to fire up our base in order to support the responsibility of the Senate and the president to make the nomination, the Senate to confirm.”
Headline USA’s Joshua Paladino contributed to the article, with additional reporting by the Associated Press.