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What you need to know about Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court

The president announced the nomination on Saturday; Judge Barrett, a practicing Catholic, could face questions over her experience and religious views

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks after President Donald Trump announced Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Washington.

Alex Brandon, Associated Press

President Donald Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Saturday for the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. He had previously stated his preference for nominating a woman. The Senate is expected to expedite the vote to confirm Barrett, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.


Associated Press

Trump hailed Barrett as “a woman of remarkable intellect and character,” saying he had studied her record closely before making the pick, according to the Associated Press.

Barrett, a former clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, said she was “truly humbled” by the nomination and quickly aligned herself with Scalia’s conservative approach to the law, saying his “judicial philosophy is mine, too.”

Trump joked that the confirmation process ahead “should be easy” and “extremely noncontroversial,” though it is likely to be anything but. No court nominee has been considered so close to a presidential election before, with early voting already underway.

Here’s what you need to know:


  • Trump nominated Barrett for her current position in 2017.
  • A Catholic, she attended Notre Dame Law School, was executive editor of the school’s law review, and graduated summa cum laude in 1997.
  • In 1998 and 1999, Barrett clerked for the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • During the 2000s and 2010s, Baker was a professor at Notre Dame, becoming the Diane and M.O. Research Chair of Law in 2014.
  • In 2012, she co-signed a protest statement condemning the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate as it related to religious employers.
  • She has written academic papers on the ethics of being a judge as an observant Catholic.

One decision

In 2020, in Cook County v. Wolf, Barrett dissented from a 7th Circuit decision barring the Trump administration from enforcing the “public charge rule,” widely seen as a wealth test for legal immigration status.

Why is she the pick?

Barrett’s religious background and anti-abortion stances may appeal to Trump and many conservatives. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-aborti on group the Susan B. Anthony List, told The New York Times: “She is the perfect combination of brilliant jurist and a woman who brings the argument to the court that is potentially the contrary to the views of the sitting women justices.” According to former colleagues, she received considerable help and attention from Notre Dame faculty from her beginnings as a student there to help advance her legal career; one colleague called it “a targeted effort around one particular person.”

What’s the hurdle?

Those same factors may draw criticism from liberals. In 2017, Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., sparked an internet meme when she questioned Barrett on her religious views: “I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.” In 2018, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus wrote that Barrett had a short “judicial paper trail,” but seemed likely to roll back abortion protections. “Her academic writings are the equivalent of a flashing neon sign: I’ll do it.”

Key quote

“I’m saving her for Ginsburg.” — President Trump on Barrett in 2018, when she was a SCOTUS finalist before the president nominated Brett Kavanaugh.

Contributing: Associated Press