President Trump announced Saturday that he would nominate federal appeals court judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, setting up a bitter confirmation fight in the final weeks of the presidential campaign.

In a Rose Garden ceremony, Trump called Barrett “one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds,” saying “she is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution.”

Barrett is a deeply conservative jurist in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose confirmation would cement the right’s hold on the nation’s highest court for many years and ensure Trump’s legacy is felt for generations.

Shortly after the event, Trump will travel to Harrisburg, Pa., for a campaign rally tonight.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden criticized Barrett for her opposition to the Affordable Care Act, saying in a statement, “The United States Constitution was designed to give the voters one chance to have their voice heard on who serves on the Court. That moment is now and their voice should be heard. The Senate should not act on this vacancy until after the American people select their next president and the next Congress.”

With 38 days until the election …
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement that the Barrett nomination "will receive a vote on the Senate floor in the weeks ahead, following the work of the Judiciary Committee supervised by Chairman Graham.”
  • Barrett, a disciple of Justice Scalia, is poised to push the Supreme Court further right for decades to come.
  • Democratic senators are mapping out how they will fight Trump’s SCOTUS nominee given they have little power to actually derail his pick.
  • Trump is expected to personally attack Biden at the candidates’ first debate on Tuesday, and Biden is being prepped for the anticipated barrage.
  • A majority of Americans, 57 percent, say the winner of November’s presidential election should choose the next Supreme Court justice, while 38 percent say Trump should fill the seat.
  • Biden leads Trump by eight percentage points nationally, 51 percent to 43 percent, according to a Washington Post average of polls. Biden’s margin is the same in Michigan and Pennsylvania and smaller in other key states: seven points in Wisconsin, five in Arizona and one in Florida.
September 26, 2020 at 7:20 PM EDT
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Barrett grew up in Louisiana, graduated the top of her class at Notre Dame law school

By Michael Kranish

The eldest of seven children, Barrett was raised in Louisiana by her father, an oil industry attorney, and her mother, a homemaker. A stellar high school student, she was an English undergraduate at Rhodes College in Memphis and then received a degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School, where she edited the law review and was first in her 1997 class.

Barrett, who lives in South Bend, Ind., and has taught at Notre Dame since 2002, was named “Distinguished Professor of the Year” on three occasions, according to the school’s website.

In 1999, she married another Notre Dame Law School graduate, Jesse M. Barrett, and they have seven children, including two adopted from Haiti. Their youngest child has Down syndrome. Barrett said last year at the Notre Dame Club in Washington that she had “anxiety about balancing kids and work,” but with help from her husband and other family members, she felt she could handle both roles. She added: “What greater thing can you do than raise children? That’s where you have your greatest impact on the world.”

Barrett has said she relies deeply on her strict adherence to her Catholic faith, even as she stresses that it does not affect her judicial decisions. She is a member of a lay-led Christian group called People of Praise, which began in South Bend and has about 2,000 members around the world. The group is charismatic, similar to the demonstrative style of Protestant Pentecostal gatherings, and believes that dark forces abound in the world. The group’s female leaders were called “handmaids” before the Margaret Atwood novel gave that phrase new meaning.

September 26, 2020 at 6:54 PM EDT
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How Trump’s Supreme Court pick will reshape the court

By Robert Barnes

An extraordinary four years of disruption, division and partisan warfare finds Republicans on the threshold of a dream decades in the making: a Supreme Court with a seemingly unshakable conservative foundation.

If Judge Amy Coney Barret is placed on the court by the GOP-controlled Senate, President Trump will have named a third of the Supreme Court, and solidified a long-elusive 6 to 3 conservative majority.

One would have to go back to Richard Nixon to find a first-term president whose nominees have so reshaped its direction, and for decades to come.

That change is likely to mean a lower bar for laws that restrict abortion. It will bring higher scrutiny of gun regulation. The Affordable Care Act is on the docket again, and one member of the scant majority that upheld it in 2012 is gone. It will be a surprise if affirmative action and other race-conscious programs survive another challenge.

And whether the public continues to see the court as the government’s most functional branch — or if radical restructuring is pursued — is on the line as well.

September 26, 2020 at 6:25 PM EDT
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McConnell says Barrett will get a Senate vote ‘in the weeks ahead’; Schumer calls nomination a threat to health-care coverage

By Donna Cassata

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a strong proponent of Barrett, hailed the judge Saturday in a statement that made clear the Senate will vote on President Trump’s choice.

“Judge Amy Coney Barrett is an exceptionally impressive jurist and an exceedingly well-qualified nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States,” McConnell said, adding: “As I have stated, this nomination will receive a vote on the Senate floor in the weeks ahead, following the work of the Judiciary Committee supervised by Chairman [Lindsey O.] Graham.”

In a statement, Graham called Barrett “highly qualified in all the areas that matter -- character, integrity, intellect and judicial disposition,” while promising a “challenging, fair and respectful” confirmation hearing, likely to start Oct. 12.

While Republicans uniformly praised Barrett, Democrats cast the nomination as a dire threat to the Affordable Care Act and health-care coverage for millions of Americans.

“The American people should make no mistake — a vote by any Senator for Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

A week after the election, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the Trump administration’s case to gut the 10-year-old law and its coverage for more than 20 million Americans. The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was considered a crucial vote to keeping the law in place. Barrett has criticized past rulings upholding the law.

September 26, 2020 at 6:10 PM EDT
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Barrett confirmation hearings expected to begin Oct. 12

By Seung Min Kim and Colby Itkowitz

Senate Republicans will waste little time moving forward with Barrett’s nomination, planning to kick off her confirmation hearings in the Judiciary Committee on Monday, Oct. 12.

The tentative schedule calls for opening statements on the first day, followed by two days of questioning on Oct. 13 and 14 and then appearances by outside witnesses on Oct. 15.

Judiciary Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) will announce the official schedule during a Fox News interview at 9 p.m. Saturday. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that after the hearings, he will decide on the timing for a full Senate vote.

September 26, 2020 at 5:58 PM EDT
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Barrett accepts Supreme Court nomination, says judges should set aside personal beliefs

By Colby Itkowitz

Barrett accepted the nomination to the nation’s highest court and sought to allay the concerns of Democrats who say her conservative ideology will influence her judicial decision-making.

“Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold,” Barrett said.

Barrett, who is devoutly religious and opposes abortion, also said she would not sit on the court to represent her “own circle,” but rather all Americans.

“If confirmed, I would not assume that role for the sake of those in my own circle, and certainly not for my own sake. I would assume this role to serve you,” Barrett said. “I would discharge the judicial oath which requires me to administer justice without respect to persons, do equal right to the poor and rich, and faithfully and impartially discharge my duties under the United States Constitution.”

Barrett began her remarks honoring the woman whom she would replace on the court.

Justice Ginsburg began her career at a time when women were not welcome in the legal profession. But she not only broke glass ceilings, she smashed them,” Barrett said. “She has won the admiration of women across the country and indeed all over the world. She was a woman of enormous talents and consequence, and her life of public service serves as an example to us all.”

Barrett is diametrically opposed to Ginsburg, a liberal icon, on nearly every issue, and Ginsburg’s fans argue it’s a disservice to her memory to replace her with someone who could undo her life’s work.

Barrett nodded at that consternation by mentioning Ginsburg’s deep and enduring friendship with the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, whom Barrett considers a mentor and a model for how she’d interpret law.

September 26, 2020 at 5:46 PM EDT
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Harris, Democrats warn Trump’s Supreme Court nominee will gut Affordable Care Act during pandemic

By Donna Cassata

Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kamala D. Harris and nearly every Senate Democrat cast the vote to confirm Barrett to the Supreme Court as a threat to the Affordable Care Act.

“Republicans are desperate to get Judge Barrett confirmed before the Supreme Court takes up this case in November and millions of Americans will suffer for their power play,” Harris (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will hold confirmation hearings, said in a statement.

The court is scheduled to hear the case after the Nov. 3 election. The Trump administration has asked the court to rule the law unconstitutional.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said a vote to confirm Barrett “is a vote to take away people’s health care and deny them vital rights in the middle of a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 and counting.”

Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) said Republicans are “rushing to confirm a Supreme Court Justice who will back their lawsuit to destroy the Affordable Care Act, kicking 23 million people off their health insurance, ending protections for 135 million people with pre-existing conditions and raising costs for millions more, in the middle of a pandemic.”

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), who voted for Trump’s two other nominees, Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh, said he would not vote to confirm Barrett or anyone else before the election.

“I urge my Republican friends to slow down, put people before politics, and give their constituents a chance to vote,” Manchin said in a statement.

September 26, 2020 at 5:23 PM EDT
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Biden says voters should decide who picks the next Supreme Court justice

By Colby Itkowitz

In a statement released minutes after President Trump announced Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee, Democratic nominee Joe Biden said that with so many pressing issues at stake, voters deserve to decide who fills the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

“Election Day is just weeks away, and millions of Americans are already voting because the stakes in this election could not be higher. They feel the urgency of this choice — an urgency made all the more acute by what’s at stake at the U.S. Supreme Court,” Biden said.

“They are voting because their health care hangs in the balance. They are voting because they worry about losing their right to vote or being expelled from the only country they have ever known. They are voting right now because they fear losing their collective bargaining rights. They are voting to demand that equal justice be guaranteed for all. They are voting because they don’t want Roe v. Wade, which has been the law of the land for nearly half a century, to be overturned,” the former vice president continued.

Biden pointed to Barrett’s criticism of the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, but said nothing else about the nominee.

“The United States Constitution was designed to give the voters one chance to have their voice heard on who serves on the Court,” Biden said. “That moment is now and their voice should be heard. The Senate should not act on this vacancy until after the American people select their next president and the next Congress.”

September 26, 2020 at 5:12 PM EDT
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Trump chooses Barrett to fill Supreme Court vacancy

By Colby Itkowitz

Trump officially nominated Barrett to fill Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court, calling her “a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution.”

Trump mentioned Ginsburg’s passing, saying this “past week our nation has mourned the loss of a true American legend.”

“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a legal giant and a pioneer for women. Her extraordinary life and legacy will inspire Americans for generations to come,” Trump said.

September 26, 2020 at 5:11 PM EDT
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Few White House guests wear masks or social distance for Supreme Court nominee announcement

By Seung Min Kim

Trump’s announcement of his Supreme Court nominee drew about 150 guests to the White House — most of whom declined to wear masks or social distance because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Notable in the Rose Garden crowd were former campaign aide Corey Lewandowski, Faith & Freedom Coalition Founder Ralph Reed and Fox News host Laura Ingraham.

Folding chairs were set close together for the event.

Among the lawmakers in attendance were Republican senators who will be voting on the nominee — Josh Hawley (Mo.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Deb Fischer (Neb.), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Kelly Loeffler (Ga.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.).

Former senior counselor Kellyanne Conway, who stepped down last month, returned to the White House for Trump’s announcement that Judge Amy Coney Barrett would be his nominee.

September 26, 2020 at 3:54 PM EDT
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Democrats to focus on saving Affordable Care Act in fight against Trump nominee

By Paul Kane

Democrats want to replicate their successful 2017 fight to preserve the Affordable Care Act, which peeled off enough GOP senators to defeat Trump’s bid to repeal the health law, in their battle against the president’s Supreme Court nominee.

They remain skeptical of the prospects for defeating the nominee, expected to be Barrett, but Democrats say this policy-focused message could propel them to big wins in the November elections.

The ideological distance between Ginsburg and Barrett is the biggest gap since 1991, when Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights lawyer and first Black justice, was replaced by Clarence Thomas, a justice who has spent almost three decades at the far right end of the court.

Now, with Barrett, a favorite of social conservatives, Republicans could have their fifth vote to overturn the ACA, strictly curtail abortion rights and possibly reject some of the court’s prior rulings on gay rights.

September 26, 2020 at 3:37 PM EDT
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Barrett and family seen leaving their Indiana home

By Colby Itkowitz

Barrett, her husband and four young children were spotted leaving their South Bend, Ind., home this afternoon dressed up for the anticipated announcement of her nomination to the Supreme Court.

While her selection won’t be official until Trump announces it at the White House this evening, people close to the president have confirmed that she’s his pick.

Providing additional evidence is the Special Air Mission military aircraft that landed in South Bend this morning and is now en route to Washington. It is expected to land soon at Andrews Air Force Base. The Barrett family will then be taken to the White House for the 5 p.m. Rose Garden announcement.

September 26, 2020 at 2:37 PM EDT
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Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff stump in Nebraska

By Brent Griffiths

PAPILLION, Neb. — The spouses of the Democratic presidential and vice-presidential candidates descended on the Omaha area Saturday, as experts predict Joe Biden is increasingly likely to flip an electoral college vote in a district that in a very narrow election could prove decisive.

Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff touted Biden’s and Sen. Kamala D. Harris’s plans for helping military veterans and their families at a stop outside a supporter’s home just miles from Offutt Air Force Base, home to the Strategic Command, and a few doors up from the line for Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District.

Biden mentioned the pandemic frequently, but no one spoke directly about President Trump or his administration as she, Emhoff and eight participants took turns discussing their experiences. In keeping with the Biden campaign’s approach during the pandemic, the event was not open to the public and everyone wore masks the entire time while keeping their social distance.

“When I think of the story over the last four years, it’s hard not to be discouraged,” Biden said. She spoke frequently of her and former first lady Michelle Obama’s work with military families during the Obama administration.

The 2nd District, which encompasses all of Omaha and some of its surrounding suburbs, is expected to be closely contested this November. Though independent public polling has been sparse, national prognosticators have given Biden the lead in flipping the district back to Democrats. The Cook Political Report lists its single electoral college vote as “Lean Democratic.”

Nebraska and Maine are the only two states that award some of their electoral college votes by congressional district, which could play a deciding role in a tight race.

Barack Obama carried the 2nd District in 2008, splitting Nebraska’s vote for the first time in history. After his win, the district was redrawn by the officially nonpartisan but de facto Republican-controlled legislature to bring in more of the Republican-heavy suburbs. County officials will begin sending out ballots to voters in the district Monday.

Jill Biden and Emhoff are off to Iowa now, traveling to Cedar Rapids. After winning Iowa by nine points in 2016, Trump’s hold on the state is much more tenuous now. The most recent Des Moines Register poll showed him and Joe Biden in a statistical tie.

September 26, 2020 at 1:42 PM EDT
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Protesters leave message on street outside Mitch McConnell’s D.C. home

By Colby Itkowitz

Youth activists representing the advocacy groups March for Our Lives and Demand Justice drew a massive chalk mural on the street in front of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s D.C. home.

McConnell, and his neighbors, will be greeted with this message: “Hey Mitch. We Call BS. Let The People Decide.”

McConnell (R-Ky.), who refused to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in President Barack Obama’s final year in office, said immediately after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death that he would move forward with Trump’s confirmation even though Americans could vote him out of office in a few weeks.

Demand Justice, a liberal group that advocates against conservatives’ stacking of federal courts, also unveiled a new domain name Friday night:

The URL opens to a page on the group’s website dedicated to blocking her confirmation.

“Amy Coney Barrett would threaten your health care and your reproductive freedom. We have to stop her,” it says.

September 26, 2020 at 1:40 PM EDT
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Biden calls Trump ‘not that smart,’ compares him to the Nazi propaganda minister

By Matt Viser

Biden, just days before the first presidential debate, called Trump “not that smart” while also comparing him to the Nazi propaganda minister.

“He’s sort of like Goebbels,” Biden said during an interview with MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle. “You say the lie long enough, keep repeating it, repeating it, repeating it — it becomes common knowledge.”

Biden made the comment when asked about Trump’s repeated attempts to brand Biden as a socialist.

“I think people see very clearly the difference between me and Donald Trump,” he said. “Trump is clearing protests in front of the White House that are peaceful, you know, with the military. This guy is more Castro than Churchill.”

Biden, while brushing aside a suggestion from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that he avoid debating Trump, said that he is preparing for a debate filled with personal attacks from the president.

“That’s the only thing he knows how to do,” Biden said. “He doesn’t know how to debate the facts, because he’s not that smart. He doesn’t know that many facts. He doesn’t know much about foreign policy. Doesn’t know much about domestic policy. He doesn’t know much about the detail.”

During the 20-minute interview, some of which aired Friday, Biden also held to the idea that the Republican Party would moderate if Trump is defeated.

“I’m not being facetious when I say this. … Get rid of the worst president in American history, Donald Trump,” Biden said, when asked how to unite people and defuse the partisanship in the Senate.

“He holds a lot of people with sway. Everybody in the Republican Party knows he is vindictive,” Biden added. “People are worried, I think, about what he’ll do. With him gone, I think it opens up a different avenue.”