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Barrett Expected to be Named for SCOTUS09/26 08:50

   President Donald Trump is expected to announce Saturday that he is 
nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court as he aims to put a 
historic conservative stamp on the high court just weeks before the election.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump is expected to announce Saturday 
that he is nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court as he aims 
to put a historic conservative stamp on the high court just weeks before the 
election.

   Trump said Friday he had made up his mind and it was "very exciting," 
without giving away the name, aiming to maintain some suspense around his 
personal announcement. But the White House indicated to congressional 
Republicans and outside allies that the pick was Barrett.

   "Well I haven't said it was her, but she's outstanding," Trump said of the 
Indiana federal judge.

   Conservative groups and congressional allies are laying the groundwork for a 
swift confirmation process for her, even before Trump makes the selection 
official in a Rose Garden ceremony Saturday evening. They, like the president, 
are wasting little time moving to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 
organizing multimillion-dollar ad campaigns and marshalling supporters both to 
confirm the pick and to boost Trump to a second term.

   The likely shift in the court's makeup --- from Ginsburg, a liberal icon, to 
an outspoken conservative --- would be the sharpest ideological swing since 
Clarence Thomas replaced Justice Thurgood Marshall nearly three decades ago.

   Ever the showman, Trump remained coy about his choice Friday evening as he 
returned from a campaign swing. When asked whether lawmakers were being told it 
was Barrett, Trump responded with a nod on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews, 
before replying, "Is that what they're telling you?"

   "You'll find out tomorrow," he went on to say, flashing a wide smile. "Look, 
they're all great. It could be any of one them. It could be actually anyone on 
the list."

   For Trump, it will provide a much-needed political assist as he tries to 
fire up his base. For conservatives, it will mark a long-sought payoff for 
their at-times uncomfortable embrace of Trump. And for Democrats, it will be 
another moment of reckoning, with their party locked in a bitter battle to 
retake the White House and the Senate.

   Senate Republicans are readying for confirmation hearings in two weeks, with 
a vote in the full chamber now expected before Election Day. Democrats are 
essentially powerless to block the votes.

   "I'm confident he's going to make an outstanding nomination," Senate 
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News. "The American people are going 
to take a look at this nominee and conclude, as we are likely to conclude, that 
she well deserves to be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court."

   "They're hell-bent on getting this done as fast as possible," said 
Democratic Senate whip Dick Durbin. "They think it helps Donald Trump get 
reelected."

   Outside conservative groups, who have been preparing for this moment for 40 
years, are planning to spend more than $25 million to support Trump and his 
nominee. The Judicial Crisis Network has organized a coalition that includes 
American First Policies, the Susan B. Anthony List, the Club for Growth and the 
group Catholic Vote.

   "One of the things we've learned from the histories of confirmation 
processes, the intensity of the fight has more to do with the previous occupant 
of the seat than who the nominee is," said JCN's Carrie Severino. "We expect 
this to be a very high stakes confirmation."

   Within hours of Ginsburg's death, Trump made clear his intention to nominate 
a woman in her stead, after previously putting two men on the court and as he 
struggles to mitigate an erosion in support among suburban women.

   Trump's announcement Saturday will come before Ginsburg is buried beside her 
husband next week at Arlington National Cemetery. On Friday, she was the first 
woman to lie in state at the Capitol, and mourners flocked to the Supreme Court 
for two days before that to pay respects.

   The White House has already concluded a round of vetting this month, as 
Trump released an additional 20 names he would consider for the court. He has 
challenged Democrat Joe Biden to list possible nominees, too.

   Trump had said he was considering five women for Ginsburg's seat, but 
Barrett was at the White House at least twice this week, including for a Monday 
meeting with Trump. He is not known to have met with any of the other 
contenders.

   The staunch conservative's 2017 appeals court confirmation on a party-line 
vote included allegations that Democrats were attacking her Catholic faith. 
Trump allies see that as a political windfall for them should Democrats attempt 
to do so once again. Catholic voters in Pennsylvania, in particular, are viewed 
as a pivotal demographic in the swing state that Democratic nominee Joe Biden, 
also Catholic, is trying to recapture.

   Vice President Mike Pence defended Barrett when asked whether her 
affiliation with People of Praise, a charismatic Christian community, would 
complicate her ability to serve on the high court.

   "I must tell you the intolerance expressed during her last confirmation 
about her Catholic faith I really think was a disservice to the process and a 
disappointment to millions of Americans," he told ABC News.

   Though the court can break down along ideological lines in high-profile 
cases, Chief Justice John Roberts and his colleagues resist the idea they are 
politicians in robes and emphasize that they agree more than they disagree. 
Still, Barrett's appointment would make the court more conservative. It would 
be transformed from a court divided 5-4 between conservatives and liberals to 
one in which six members are conservatives appointed by Republican presidents. 
Barrett has been hailed as a justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia, for whom 
she clerked.

   Trump played up the power to make judicial nominations with conservative 
voters in 2016, when Republican senators kept open the seat vacated by the 
death of Scalia rather than let President Barack Obama fill the opening. 
Trump's decision to release lists of accomplished conservative jurists for 
potential elevation was rewarded by increased enthusiasm among white 
evangelical voters, many of whom had been resistant to supporting the candidacy 
of the one-time New York Democrat.

   Trump's campaign is preparing to use the latest confirmation fight for 
maximum political effect.

   "This is big jet fuel on our base," said Bill Schuette, a former Michigan 
attorney general and now a Trump campaign surrogate. "This is going to fire up 
our base in order to support the responsibility of the Senate and the president 
to make the nomination, the Senate to confirm."

 
 
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