President Donald Trump officially nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat on the Supreme Court left vacant following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death last week. The 48-year-old Barrett is a conservative federal appeals court judge and could serve on the court for decades. If the nomination is successful, Trump will have three justices on the court in just one term, giving conservatives a 6-3 majority.
"She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials, and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution," Trump said when introducing Barrett at the White House, reports CBS News. Trump, who appointed Barrett to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017, told Barrett, "I looked and I studied and you are very eminently qualified for this job." He also noted that Barrett would be the first mother of school-aged children to serve on the Supreme Court.
Barrett served as a clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose widow was in the crowd Saturday before she became a law professor. Barrett still holds a part-time position at Notre Dame Law School and lives in South Bend, Indiana. In her brief remarks, Barrett honored Ginsburg, but said Scalia's "judicial philosophy is mine, too," notes NPR. "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," Barrett added.
Just moments after Ginsburg's death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to have a vote on Trump's nominee with less than two months to go before the November elections. Four years ago, McConnell refused to vote on President Barack Obama's nomination for Merrick Garland to replace Scalia during an election year. Scalia was not replaced until Trump nominated Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed in 2017.
On Saturday, McConnell said the Senate "will evaluate this nomination on the basis of Judge Barrett's objective qualifications." The Kentucky Republican continued, "The Court, the Senate, and the American people — not to mention the nominee and her family — deserve a fair process that is focused on Judge Barrett's qualifications. I hope all 100 Senators will treat this serious process with the dignity and respect it should command."
The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Lindsey Graham, needs to hold confirmation hearings before the full Senate votes. Senators usually go home to campaign before the November elections, but sources told CBS News the committee will hold hearings in October. Opening statements will be heard on Oct. 12 and senators will question Barrett on Oct. 13 and 14, with outside witnesses speaking on Oct. 15. Only two Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — have said they oppose voting on a Supreme Court justice before the election, but that would not be enough to stop Barrett from being confirmed by a 51-vote majority.
Democrats have already spoken out against Barrett's nomination. Former Vice President Joe Biden issued a statement focusing on Barrett's previous opposition to the Affordable Care Act. "The American people know the U.S. Supreme Court decisions affect their everyday lives," Biden wrote. "The United States Constitution was designed to give the voters one chance to have their voice heard on who serves on the Court. That moment is now and their voice should be heard. The Senate should not act on this vacancy until after the American people select their next president and the next Congress."