Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court

By Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 7:19 PM ET, Sat September 26, 2020
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6:48 p.m. ET, September 26, 2020

What happens next in the Supreme Court nomination process

President Trump this evening announced he's nominating Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court.

Barrett, 48, was a finalist for the Supreme Court spot that went to Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. She was confirmed in 2017 for her current judgeship on the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.

Now, the Republican-led Senate will begin the confirmation process for Barrett — and some GOP senators signaled they will quickly move to take up the nomination.

Here's what we know about next steps:

  • Tuesday: Barrett is expected to be on Capitol Hill Tuesday to begin courtesy calls, per GOP sources. She'll also meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell then, sources said.
  • The week of Oct. 12: According to a likely schedule being circulated around the Senate today, the hearing to confirm Barrett could begin on Oct. 12, with opening statements in the Senate Judiciary committee. There would be rounds of questioning on Oct. 13 and Oct. 14, and there would be a closed session on Oct. 15 with outside witnesses.
  • Oct. 29: That timeline would allow for a confirmation vote by Oct. 29, hitting a pre-election timeline that the White House and congressional Republicans are increasingly coalescing behind. 
6:58 p.m. ET, September 26, 2020

Why the White House Rose Garden was adorned with flags for Trump's SCOTUS announcement

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

President Donald Trump and Amy Coney Barrett walk to the Rose Garden on Saturday.
President Donald Trump and Amy Coney Barrett walk to the Rose Garden on Saturday. Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

For the Supreme Court announcement today, the Rose Garden was transformed to look similar to June 14, 1993 — the day then-President Bill Clinton announced Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s nomination to the high court.

Trump this evening nominated Amy Coney Barrett to fill Ginsburg's seat.

It is a very distinctive look, with large flags hanging down from the Colonnade, one after another, between the columns.

President Trump and his advisers specifically asked for the Rose Garden to be adorned in hanging flags after they recently saw the Clinton-Ginsburg announcement replaying on television.

It’s a subtle — but noticeable — replication of that look, a White House aide says.

Here's what it looked like in 1993:

President Bill Clinton and Ruth Bader Ginsburg walk along the Colonnade of the White House on June 14, 1993.
President Bill Clinton and Ruth Bader Ginsburg walk along the Colonnade of the White House on June 14, 1993. Doug Mills/AP

6:39 p.m. ET, September 26, 2020

GOP senator who doesn't support taking up a SCOTUS nomination now says she'll meet with Barrett

From CNN’s Manu Raju

Alex Edelman/Pool/AP
Alex Edelman/Pool/AP

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican Alaska, said despite her statement indicating she doesn’t support President Trump nominating a Supreme Court justice this close to Election Day, she will meet with Amy Coney Barrett as part of the confirmation process.

Here's her statement:

“For weeks I have stated that I do not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to an election. But today the President exercised his constitutional authority to nominate an individual to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I welcome the opportunity to meet with the Supreme Court nominee, just as I did in 2016.”

Last week, Murkowski said she opposes taking up a Supreme Court nomination prior to Election Day. She did not address whether she will oppose President Donald Trump's nominee in a lame-duck session if Joe Biden wins the presidency.

6:34 p.m. ET, September 26, 2020

Democratic senator warns that Barrett will strike down Obamacare amid pandemic

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono.
Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono. CNN

Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will strike down the Affordable Care Act if she is confirmed.  

“Judiciary Republicans are prepared to vote for whoever the nominee is, but they want to push this person through to steal yet another Supreme Court seat, to vote down the Affordable Care Act,” Hirono said. 

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the future of the ACA on Nov. 10.

“She is going to strike down the Affordable Care Act in the midst of a pandemic, leaving millions and millions of people without health care,” Hirono said. 

The senator from Hawaii told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer she will not be meeting with Barrett ahead of confirmation hearings.  

“I will not be meeting with her. I will take the opportunity to question her when she is under oath,” Hirono said. 

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said he hopes the nominee will be confirmed by Nov. 1.

“We may not be able to stop it; we can slow it down. But the American people need to know what's at stake,” Hirono said. “... And what’s at stake is their very health care.”

6:05 p.m. ET, September 26, 2020

What it was like at a Trump rally as the President nominated Amy Coney Barrett

From CNN's Ryan Nobles and Donald Judd           

 

People gather at Harrisburg International Airport ahead of President Trump's rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania, on Saturday. 
People gather at Harrisburg International Airport ahead of President Trump's rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania, on Saturday.  Spencer Platt/Getty Images

President Trump is set to hold a rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania, this evening — his first political event after officially nominating Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. 

The event is not scheduled to kick off until 7 p.m. ET, but a significant crowd had already gathered hours ahead of time. As the nominating ceremony began, the large jumbotron over the event switched to Fox News’ live coverage of the event. 

The crowd quieted down and turned its attention to the event enthusiastically cheering as Barrett was announced. Some in the crowd broke out into a chant of “Fill the Seat!”. 

As Barrett delivered her remarks, the Trump crowd cheered as she said she loved America and the Constitution and when she promised to uphold the document as it was written.

They also cheered loudly as she talked about her role as a mother and described her family life.

As is typical with Trump events, this event is being staged once again with little to no precautions in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Very few people are wearing masks and the crowd — which numbers in the thousands — is packed in shoulder-to-shoulder.

6:12 p.m. ET, September 26, 2020

RBG and Amy Coney Barrett "could not be more different," CNN analyst says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

From left, Amy Coney Barrett and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
From left, Amy Coney Barrett and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Getty Images

CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin highlighted the differences between late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Trump's nominee to fill her seat, Amy Coney Barrett. 

“There have only been 114 Supreme Court justices in American history, so any nomination is consequential. But this one is especially important because the judicial philosophies of Ruth Bader Ginsburg…and Amy Coney Barrett could not be more different under our system,” Toobin said.

He outlined the differing views of the conservative federal appeals court judge and the liberal justice Ginsburg. 

“The differences for reproductive freedom, for health care, for gun control — or the absence thereof — affirmative action, so many issues, her views are going to be diametrically opposed to Ruth Ginsburg’s,” he said. “And that’s what Donald Trump promised during the campaign. He is delivering on that promise, and we’re going to see in very short order whether the voters think that’s a good idea.”

5:51 p.m. ET, September 26, 2020

Why we're talking about the Affordable Care Act following Trump's Supreme Court pick

The exterior of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC.
The exterior of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Erin Scott/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Many Democratic lawmakers are mentioning health care and the Affordable Care Act in response to President Trump's decision to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court,

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a statement tied her opposition to Barrett’s nomination to concerns she will support eliminating Obamacare. And Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer told his fellow senators that a vote to confirm Barrett "is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act"

Here's why they're focusing on health care: The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments just after the November election in a case about the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Republicans have indicated they may vote to confirm Barrett before Election Day — meaning she could be seated on the bench for that case.

What Barrett has said about the Affordable Care Act: In an early 2017 law review essay reviewing a book related to the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, Barrett criticized Chief Justice John Roberts' rationale that saved the law in 2012.

"Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute," Barrett wrote. "He construed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power."

5:40 p.m. ET, September 26, 2020

Senate Democratic leader: A vote to confirm Barrett "is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act"

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said President Trump's decision to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has put "Americans’ healthcare in the crosshairs."

"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," Schumer wrote in a statement.

Schumer continued:

"As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, unabated by this Administration, healthcare was already the number one issue on the ballot in November. President Trump has promised to nominate Supreme Court Justices who will “terminate” our health care law and decimate the health care system for American Indians and Alaska Natives. In Judge Barrett, President Trump has found the deciding vote."

What this is about: The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments just after the November election in a case about the Affordable Care Act. Senate Republicans have indicated they may vote to confirm Barrett before Election Day — meaning she could be seated on the bench for that case.

In an early 2017 law review essay, reviewing a book related to the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, Barrett criticized Chief Justice John Roberts' rationale that saved the law in 2012.

"Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute," Barrett wrote. "He construed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power."

5:41 p.m. ET, September 26, 2020

Biden focuses on health care when reacting to Barrett's Supreme Court nomination

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

Joe Biden attends a memorial service for Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the Statuary Hall at the US Capitol on Friday, September 25.
Joe Biden attends a memorial service for Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the Statuary Hall at the US Capitol on Friday, September 25. Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images

Joe Biden released a statement reacting to Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination and focused on health care and protecting the Affordable Care Act.

“Today, President Trump has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the successor to Justice Ginsburg’s seat. She has a written track record of disagreeing with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act. She critiqued Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion upholding the law in 2012,” Biden said.

He added that the Senate should not act on the vacancy until after the American people select their next president. 

Remember: Senate Republicans have outlined a possible confirmation hearing for Barrett that could have her confirmed before Election Day.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments just after the election in a case about the Affordable Care Act. The case is brought by a coalition of Republican state attorneys general and the Trump administration, who argue the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional, and the entire law must fall.