Judge Amy Comey Barrett, tapped Saturday as President Donald Trump's pick for the Supreme Court of the United States, declared her love for the nation and Constitution, her admiration for the late Justice Antonin Scalia — and a belief that "disagreements need not destroy relationships."
In her speech in the Rose Garden, Barrett spoke warmly of her family life — her marriage to her lawyer husband, her nine children, and her "chagrin" that her children liked her husband's cooking better than hers.
She also movingly described her view of justice — and the ability for two sides to disagree and yet not divided.
"I pledge to respond the responsibilities to the best of my ability," she declared. "I love the United States and I love the United States Constitution."
Barrett extolled her admiration for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose seat she will fill.
"Justice Ginsburg began her career at a time when women were not welcome in the profession, but spoke not only broking glass ceilinging, she smashed them," Barrett said.
"Her life of public service serves as an example to us all. And Justices Scalia and Ginsburg disagreed in print," she added.
"But they demonstrated that it need not destroy relationships."
"And I was lucky enough to serve for Justice Scalia, and the lessons I learned still resonate," she added. "His judicial philosophy is mine … Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold."
President Donald Trump was also effusive in his praise of her — and stressed his belief she'd be a law-and-order justice.
"We must preserve our priceless heritage of a nation of laws and there is no one better to do that than Amy Coney Barrett," he said. "Law and order is the foundation of the American system of justice.
"No matter the case before her, I am supremely confident that Barrett will issue rulings based upon a fair reading of the law…. I know that you will make our country very, very proud. "
Barrett is Trump's third U.S. Supreme Court appointment, setting off a scramble in the Republican-led Senate to confirm her before Election Day in 5-1/2 weeks.
"Today it is my honor to nominate one of our nation's most brilliant and gifted legal minds to the Supreme Court," Trump said.
Turning to Barrett, Trump said that "you are very eminently qualified for the job." She and her lawyer husband have seven children, two of whom were adopted from Haiti, and they joined her at the ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.
If confirmed to replace liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died at age 87 on Sept. 18, Barrett would become the fifth woman ever to serve on the top U.S. judicial body and push its conservative majority to a commanding 6-3. With Trump's fellow Republicans controlling the Senate, confirmation appears certain, though Democrats may try to make the process as difficult as possible.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement Saturday praising the nomination.
"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.
Barrett, 48, was appointed by Trump to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017 and is a favorite of religious conservatives, a key Trump voter bloc. Conservative activists have hailed Trump's selection, which surfaced on Friday night, while liberals have voiced dismay.
Like Trump's two other appointees, Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, Barrett is young enough that she could serve for decades. Barrett is the youngest Supreme Court nominee since conservative Clarence Thomas was 43 in 1991.
The White House ceremony was decorated with American flags arranged in a way similar to the day when President Bill Clinton nominated Ginsburg in 1993.
The selection kicks off a flurry of activity that must take place before the final confirmation vote, including public hearings in the coming weeks before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A White House source said the nominee on Tuesday will begin the traditional courtesy calls on individual senators in their offices, with McConnell up first. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone is expected to shepherd the nomination.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, who mounted an angry defense of Kavanaugh during tense confirmation hearings in 2018, has signaled he expects to have Barrett confirmed as a justice by the Nov. 3 election in which Trump is seeking a second term.
Democrats are still furious over McConnell's 2016 refusal to consider President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland because it came during an election year. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has said the winner of the election should get to replace Ginsburg.
Republicans hold a 53-47 Senate majority. Only two Republican senators have opposed proceeding with the confirmation process.
Abortion rights advocates have voiced concern that Barrett, a devout Roman Catholic, could cast a vote for overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion nationwide.
Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, an anti-abortion group, in a statement on Saturday expressed confidence that Barrett "will fairly apply the law and Constitution as written, which includes protecting the most vulnerable in our nation: our unborn children."
Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote, a faith-based advocacy group, added, "Catholics are thrilled with the expected nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett and believe she represents the best choice to protect the rule of law and our constitutional rights."
Abortion rights groups and other liberal-leaning organizations announced plans for a protest against her nomination on Sunday in front of the Supreme Court.
Barrett has staked out conservative legal positions in three years on the bench, voting in favor of one of Trump's hardline immigration policies and showing support for expansive gun rights. She also authored a ruling making it easier for college students accused of campus sexual assaults to sue their institutions.
Born in New Orleans, Barrett received her law degree from Notre Dame Law School, a Catholic institution in Indiana.
The other finalist mentioned by Trump to fill the vacancy was Barbara Lagoa, a Cuban-American federal appeals court judge from Florida who he appointed last year.
Trump has said he wants his nominee confirmed before the election so she would be able participate in any election-related cases that reach the justices, potentially casting a key vote in his favor. A U.S. presidential election's outcome only once has been determined by the Supreme Court, in 2000 when it clinched Republican George W. Bush's victory over Democrat Al Gore.
Trump has repeatedly without evidence said voting by mail, a regular feature of American elections, will lead to voter fraud. He also has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election.
This marks the first time since 1956 that a U.S. president has moved to fill a Supreme Court vacancy so close to an election. In that year, President Dwight Eisenhower three weeks before winning re-election placed William Brennan on the court using a procedure called a "recess appointment" that bypassed the Senate, a tactic no longer available for installing justices.
An emboldened Supreme Court conservative majority could shift the United States to the right on hot-button issues by, among other things, curbing abortion rights, expanding religious rights, striking down gun control laws, and endorsing new restrictions on voting rights.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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