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President Trump on Saturday announced he has chosen Amy Coney Barrett as his pick to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — a move that could significantly shift the nation's highest court to the right if she's confirmed by the Senate.
“Today it is my honor to nominate one of our nation's most brilliant and gifted legal minds to the Supreme Court," Trump said in the Rose Garden alongside Barrett. "She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution — Judge Amy Coney Barrett.”
REPUBLICANS EYE OCT. 12 FOR START OF SCOTUS CONFIRMATION HEARINGS: SOURCE
Trump announced Barrett, a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, who had been considered by Trump for the vacancy left by the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2018. Trump eventually chose now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh instead.
Ginsburg, a liberal trailblazer who was a consistent vote on the court’s liberal wing, died last week at 87. The announcement sets up what is likely to be a fierce confirmation battle as Republicans attempt to confirm Barrett before the election on Nov. 3.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised to put the nominee up for a vote, despite the objections of Senate Democrats — who cite McConnell’s refusal to give Obama nominee Merrick Garland a hearing in 2016.
A source familiar with the process told Fox News that Oct. 12 is the target date for the beginning of confirmation hearings. This means that Barrett, 48, could potentially be confirmed by the end of the month and just days before the election.
Barrett, a former Notre Dame professor and a mother of seven, is a devout Catholic and pro-life — beliefs that were raised as a problem by Democrats during her 2017 confirmation hearing to her seat on the 7th Circuit.
"The dogma lives loudly within you, and that's of concern," Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told Barrett. She was eventually confirmed 55-43.
Trump was also believed to have been considering candidates including 11th Circuit Judge Barbara Lagoa. Trump had said publicly that he had five potential picks he was considering.
A source told Fox News that Trump had taken note of how “tough” Barrett was when she faced the tough confirmation fight in 2017 and had kept her very much at the front of his mind since then.
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The source said Trump met her during the considerations on who to replace Kennedy in 2018, talked to a lot of people about her and wanted to keep her in place through the Kavanaugh vetting process in case there was an issue. Kavanaugh did face hurdles in his confirmation battle, but that came after his nomination was announced.
The source said that after Ginsburg died, Barrett was the only candidate he met and spoke with at length, although he made a few calls to Lagoa because some people were pushing him very hard to do so. But ultimately Barrett was always at the front of Trump’s mind to fill a Ginsburg vacancy.
Should she be confirmed, Barrett would be Trump’s third Supreme Court confirmation. That’s more than two-term Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — who each put two justices on the court.
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Democrats have vowed to oppose the pick, but the Senate math does not appear to be in their favor. Republicans have 53 Senate seats and Barrett only needs 50 to be confirmed — with Vice President Mike Pence acting as a tie breaker in such a case.
So far, only Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have indicated they oppose moving forward with a confirmation before the election. Murkowski has since suggested she still may vote for the nominee.
Fox News' John Roberts, Mike Emanuel and Tyler Olson contributed to this report.
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