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On Saturday evening at a rally in Fayetteville, N.C., President Donald Trump announced that he would be naming a successor to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Trump made the announcement shortly after a heartfelt tribute to Ginsburg, a liberal lion of the Court who refused to retire despite fighting pancreatic cancer for more than a decade.
“As we meet tonight, our nation mourns the loss of a legal giant, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” the president declared. “Her landmark rulings, fierce commitment to justice, and her courageous battle against cancer inspire all Americans. … She was an inspiration to a tremendous number of people, I say all Americans.”
“Justice Ginsburg’s close relationship with a friend of ours, a friend of mine, Justice Scalia, is also a powerful reminder that we can disagree on fundamental issues while treating each other with decency, dignity, and respect,” Trump added. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”
Three strong possibilities
Since Trump said he will choose a woman, that narrows down the names on his list of potential nominees. Twelve of the 44 names on Trump’s list are women. Of those twelve, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett is considered the frontrunner.
When Trump was deliberating which nominee to choose when replacing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the president told confidants he had big plans for Barrett. “I’m saving her for Ginsburg,” he said, three sources told Axios’ Jonathan Swan last March.
Barrett would be an excellent choice. Not only is she a stellar judge and a pro-life Roman Catholic, but Barrett performed well under fire during her confirmation hearing in 2017. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) notoriously said, “The dogma lives loudly within you,” suggesting something of a religious test for a federal judgeship.
Democrats have only gotten worse in their readiness to launch inquisitions into the faith of the conservative Christians whom Trump has nominated to federal offices. Many have cited the far-left smear factory the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to demonize nominees who have spoken at events with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an accomplished conservative Christian law firm that the SPLC unfairly demonizes as a “hate group.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s running mate and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has a history of attacking conservative Christians for their faith and she will likely vociferously attack Barrett in the confirmation hearings.
In fact, Harris previously attacked another woman on Trump’s shortlist, Allison Jones Rushing, a judge on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Rushing clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and she clerked for Neil Gorsuch when he was an appeals court judge. Harris attacked Rushing for her relationship with ADF and asked her whether she thinks “that LGBT rights cannot be reconciled with religion.”
Many commentators are speculating that Trump may pick 11th Circuit Court Judge Barbara Lagoa, a Cuban judge who would become the second Latina member of the Supreme Court after Sonia Sotomayor. Lagoa previously served as a justice on the Florida Supreme Court.
Mark Levin zeroed in on three names, one of whom is not a woman: Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Barrett, and Rushing.
The rest of Trump’s Supreme Court list
The other women on Trump’s shortlist are:
- 9th Circuit Court Judge Bridget Bade.
- 10th Circuit Court Judge Allison Eid, a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
- 11th Circuit Court Judge Britt Grant, a former justice on the Georgia Supreme Court.
- 6th Circuit Court Judge Joan Larsen, a former clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia.
- Illinois federal judge Martha Pacold, a former clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas.
- Missouri federal judge Sarah Pitlyk, a special counsel at the Thomas More Society, a former clerk to then-D.C. Appeals Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
- Margaret Ryan, a Marine who previously served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and was a clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas.
- 7th Circuit Court Judge Diane Sykes.
- Kate Todd, deputy counsel to Trump and a former clerk to Clarence Thomas.
While each of these women has a chance, I would expect Barrett or Lagoa, with Rushing and perhaps Larsen as other strong possibilities.