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Trump May Appoint Federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett To The Supreme Court


We have some breaking news on the Supreme Court. A source tells NPR that President Trump is expected to announce federal judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Barrett is recognized as a conservative and, at 48 years old, would become the youngest justice if confirmed. This reporting comes from NPR national justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. She joins us now.

And, Carrie, first tell us what more you can about the president's decision.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: A source of mine with knowledge of the process as Republicans expect President Trump to choose Amy Coney Barrett for the vacancy on the Supreme Court. The source also cautions the president could change his mind since he's sometimes idiosyncratic. And the White House, Audie, declined comment. But the president told reporters on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews that he had made a decision, but we have not made our intentions known publicly. We do know that President Trump did not meet with any of the other people on the shortlist, apparently only met with Amy Coney Barrett at least twice. She was at the White House earlier this week.

CORNISH: Tell us about her background.

JOHNSON: Yeah. She's currently on the federal appeals court for the 7th Circuit. She's been on that court for a few years now, and President Trump appointed her there. Before that, Audie, she was a law professor at Notre Dame and even before that was one of Justice Antonin Scalia's favorite law clerks of all time. We know that President Trump has called Justice Scalia his favorite Supreme Court justice. Barrett is a devout Catholic, the mother of seven kids. Two of them are adopted from Haiti. And she has a record of writings that are taking a somewhat dim view of abortion and abortion rights in the past.

CORNISH: Can you tell us more about what is supposed to happen next in the process? We know the president says he plans to announce formally his pick on Saturday.

JOHNSON: That's right. And, you know, if things go as planned on Saturday and Amy Coney Barrett is announced, it'll only be 38 days until the presidential election. That is going to be a whiplash. But we're hearing that Republicans very much want this to happen in the White House and as well as in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made this, as you know, a high priority. The nominee could be meeting with senators as early as next week. And Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has been telling people that he might hold hearings as early as the week of Oct. 12 or Oct. 13. Graham may want to see a confirmation by the end of October.

We also know, Audie, that the Supreme Court term starts in early October. So for at least a few weeks, the court will be down to eight justices. That's a little complicated if the court hears arguments and deadlocks in a 4-4 vote. It's happened before. And sometimes that means that they'll either decide to rehear a case with a new justice on the bench or the lower court ruling stands, and it's as if the Supreme Court never took up the dispute in the first place.

CORNISH: This name isn't a new one. Has there already been some pushback?

JOHNSON: There absolutely has been. Just in the last 30 minutes or so, my email has blown up. Groups like Demand Justice, which has vowed to fight anybody that President Trump has nominated for this vacancy, is outraged. A number of LGBTQ groups and other groups have also expressed concern. As we know, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had decided or said that her most fervent hope was that the next president would choose her replacement. That is not apparently what has come to pass.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Carrie Johnson.

Thank you for your reporting.

JOHNSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Johnson
Carrie Johnson is NPR's National Justice Correspondent.