US President Donald Trump was likely to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who has served on the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit since 2017, to the Supreme Court as the replacement for late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, according to media reports.
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.
When asked whether lawmakers were being told it was Barrett, Trump responded with a nod 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 USD 25 million to support Trump and his nominee. The Judicial Crisis Network has organised 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.
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.