WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump at the White House on Saturday introduced federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee, setting off a confirmation battle that could secure a conservative court for generations.
“She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect and sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution,” Trump said in remarks in the Rose Garden with Barrett standing at his side. Barrett’s husband, Jesse, and seven children were in the audience for the event, and took the stage with her at the conclusion.
The president said Barrett “will decide cases based on the text of the Constitution as written.”
Barrett, 48, who sits on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, is a favorite among conservatives for her anti-abortion views, and given her age could serve on the highest court in the land for decades — justices are appointed for life. Her confirmation would give conservatives six of the court’s nine seats, potentially shifting rulings considerably to the right.
“My fellow Americans, the president has nominated me to serve on the United States Supreme Court, and that institution belongs to all of us,” Barrett said to the crowd of about 150 in the Rose Garden. “If confirmed, I would not assume that role for the sake of those in my own circle, and certainly not for my own sake.”
She said she looked forward to the confirmation process.
“I have no illusions that the road ahead of me will be easy, either for the short term or the long haul,” she said.
Senate Republicans are scrambling to schedule what’s expected to be mid-October nomination hearings before the Judiciary Committee for Barrett. Outraged Democrats have pointed out that would amount to unprecedented speed, with only 37 days from Saturday until the presidential election on Nov. 3.
Trump said he expects the nomination process to be fairly quick.
“This should be a straightforward and prompt confirmation,” he said, adding, “Should be easy.”
Trump after his remarks was scheduled to head to a rally outside Harrisburg, Pa., scheduled for later Saturday.
As they waited for Trump to speak at Harrisburg International Airport, just outside the capital city, supporters welcomed the news.
“I’m happy as h*ll he picked someone,” said Toni, a 58-year-old nurse from Harrisburg who declined to give her last name.
Toni didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, but backs him now. She’s fearful of what America would look like under a Democratic president after a summer of protests over racial injustice.
She also said she thinks the election, where millions will cast ballots by mail, will be disputed. So “we’re going to need some help in November,” she said.
Four years ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to hold a confirmation hearing for President Barack Obama’s last Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland, arguing that the seat should not be filled in an election year. That nomination came 237 days before the 2016 presidential election.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, criticized Trump for nominating a Supreme Court Justice before a next president is selected.
“The United States Constitution was designed to give the voters one chance to have their voice heard on who serves on the Court,” Biden said in a statement. “The Senate should not act on this vacancy until after the American people select their next president and the next Congress.”