According to three individuals close to the matter, President Donald Trump has said that Judge Amy Coney Barrett is in line for the Supreme Court vacancy that will, sooner or later, be opened up by current Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Axios reports.
“I’m saving her for Ginsburg,” the president said, referring to Barrett, in private comments to the individuals who provided Axios with the information. That particular language around saving a judge for a specific seat has been heard from Trump before, including in reference to Brett Kavanaugh, who was two days later nominated to the Court.
In any case, Barrett would be a conservative favorite for a number of reasons. First, she is comparatively young, meaning that she would likely occupy the Supreme Court slot for a very long time, which is always a factor weighed when presidents have the relatively uncommon opportunity to fill such an important and long-lasting vacancy. Additionally, she has written in the past in favor of overturning the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, a common litmus test of sorts, particularly for conservatives.
Still, there were elements of Barrett’s candidacy that made her a less-than-ideal choice for previous vacancies. Advisors reportedly warned the president in the past that her outspoken opposition to abortion could cost her critical confirmation votes in the Senate, particularly from Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. The two Senators have often found themselves breaking with the party faithful on critical votes such as this one. Anticipating a stronger majority in the Senate following the 2018 midterms, advisors suggested saving more controversial picks, like Barrett, for later.
Remember Sen. Feinstein's comment during Amy Coney Barrett's 2017 confirmation hearing? Referring to Barrett’s Catholic faith, Feinstein infamously declared that “the dogma lives loudly within you". Read from our Pres., CEO & Chief Counsel in @dcexaminer https://t.co/gVP7oa0g1Y— First Liberty (@1stLiberty) February 21, 2019
Regardless, the president’s ability to change his mind, even on major decisions such as this, is well-documented and there is every possibility that when the next vacancy on the Supreme Court opens up, he will have another candidate on his mind entirely.
“The Supreme Court judicial selection process with the president is a very fluid one,” said one of the sources sharing insight on the president’s thinking with Axios. “He floats in and out of these discussions over a period of time.”
Even so, there is no doubt that Barrett on the bench of the Supreme Court would indeed further reshape the judicial branch for many years to come. Trump has already moved the court substantially to the right with his previous picks. If he does have the opportunity to replace Ginsburg, it wouldn’t be out of line to suggest that he would have build a reliably conservative majority on the highest court in the land that could last, literally, for decades.