WASHINGTON – Federal appeals court judge Amy Connie Barrett has emerged as one of the first candidates for the Supreme Court seat left vacant on the death of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, three sources told NBC News.
Barrett, 48, was on the shortlist in 2018 to replace retired judge Anthony Kennedy when President Donald Trump – who on Saturday called her “very respectful” – chose Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the end.
Sources indicate that Barrett was examined, a “known quantity,” given her 2017 confirmation to sit in the Chicago-based US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Trump also told him
Republicans believed she performed well in this place and defended herself against claims that her religious beliefs would influence her legal judgment.
At the time, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, told her, “Doctrine lives out loud within you, and that’s a concern.”
Barrett replied: “It is never appropriate for a judge to enforce his personal convictions, whether arising out of faith or elsewhere, under the law.”
Among the perceived positives of Barrett from a Republican perspective is that she enjoys respect for the religious right due to her staunch opposition to abortion and her devout Catholic faith. She is a former writer for the late judge Antonin Scalia, a woman – seen as a prerequisite in replacing the feminist icon Ginsburg – who is also the mother of Seven Children.
Trump also said his candidate would be “most likely” a woman.
Ginsberg, a lifelong women’s rights advocate and fierce advocate for gender equality, died Friday “surrounded by her family at her home in Washington, DC, of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer,” according to a court statement.
The potential obstacles Barrett faces are her views on abortion, which may complicate her assertion, given that her position is in stark contrast to Ginsberg’s legacy on abortion rights. Separately, a number of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights organizations were quick to share their concerns about it when it first appeared on the President’s court shortlist.
Attention is also focused on 38-year-old Allison Rushing from North Carolina, who is currently serving as a judge on the Virginia-based US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. But as NBC News reported at the time of its confirmation: “While Rushing made headlines because she became one of the youngest and least experienced members of the federal judiciary, it also attracted attention due to its ten-year association with one of the most famous anti-gay groups.”
Additionally, two other judges are under serious consideration to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, according to multiple sources familiar with the audit.
One is Barbara Lagoa, a 52-year-old from Florida, who is a judge on the Georgia-based United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit; The other is Amul Thapar, 51, who sits in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit based in Cincinnati and is a favorite of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
While the White House will lead the nomination process in coordination with Republicans in the Senate, the Trump campaign will likely help push the Republican Party to fill the vacant position on the Supreme Court. One campaign official says, for example, that re-election efforts will continue to pressure Joe Biden to release a list of possible candidates for the Supreme Court.
As for the timeframe, Trump tweeted early Saturday that Republicans have an “obligation to” move forward “without delay! Biden said Friday night that the replacement of Ginsburg should not come until after the election.
While the timing is fluctuating, Trump said on Saturday that a candidate “next week” will be announced.