President Trump on Friday was leaning toward nominating federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court, according to reports citing sources familiar with the process.
The White House has indicated in conversations that Barrett was Trump’s intended choice to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg but cautioned that he could still change his mind, the sources told CNN.
Barrett was spotted Friday at her home in South Bend, Ind., but it’s unclear if she’s aware of Trump’s intentions, CNN said. The New York Times also reported Trump had made Coney Barrett his choice.
Supreme Court nominees are often informed of their selection at the last possible moment to maintain secrecy.
Trump has repeatedly said that he was going to pick a woman and make a formal announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House at 5 p.m. Saturday.
If Barrett replaces Ginsburg, who was the Supreme Court’s leading liberal voice, she would give the conservative wing a 6-3 majority.
At 48, she would also be the youngest member of the high court and could help maintain its conservative majority for decades.
The revelation of Trump’s reported intentions came just hours after Ginsburg’s body lay in state at the US Capitol, making her the first woman and the first Jewish person to receive the posthumous honor.
Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18 of metastatic pancreatic cancer at 87, will reportedly be buried next week in Arlington National Cemetery, next to her late husband, Marty Ginsburg, who died in 2010.
The move to replace Ginsburg ahead of the Nov. 3 election has sparked outrage from Democrats because US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) blocked then-President Barack Obama’s nomination of federal appeals Judge Merrick Garland in 2016 on grounds that it was an election year.
Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate and two GOP members — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — have objected to fast-tracking Ginsburg’s replacement, but no others appear ready to break ranks.
Earlier this week, Trump called on Republican senators to quickly confirm whoever he nominated so the Supreme Court has a full bench of nine justices to rule on a likely legal battle over mail-in votes cast in his race against former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden.
“I think this scam that the Democrats are pulling — it’s a scam,” he said Wednesday.
“This scam will be before the United States Supreme Court and I think having the four-four situation is not a good situation if you get that.”