President Donald Trump is reportedly “saving” federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.
Ginsburg, 86, is currently the oldest member on the high court, appointed by former President Bill Clinton in 1993.
Trump appointed Barrett, 46, to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Nov. 2017. Prior to accepting the position, Barrett was a professor at Notre Dame Law School.
Axios reported that as Trump was deliberating last year who to nominate to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, he told confidants regarding Barrett, “I’m saving her for Ginsburg.”
“Trump used that exact line with a number of people, including in a private conversation with an adviser two days before announcing Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination,” according to the news outlet.
The president also expressed concern that Barrett, a pro-life supporter at Notre Dame, would have a harder time garnering the votes of pro-choice Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. The GOP held the Senate by a narrow 51 to 49 majority at the time.
Murkowski came out against Kavanaugh, but the circuit court judge still cleared the Senate by a 50-48 vote.
The GOP majority became 53 to 47 in November, giving Trump the ability to lose up to three Republican senators and still get a nominee confirmed, assuming no Democrat support.
The Senate approved Barrett — who clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia early in her legal career — to the 7th Circuit by a vote of 55 to 43.
Among those voting against Barrett was Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein who told the practicing Catholic, “The dogma lives loudly within you.”
“That is of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country,” Feinstein added, in an apparent reference to abortion, among other matters.
Barrett noted during the hearing that as a circuit court judge, she would have no say in overturning cases on which the Supreme Court has set precedent — Roe v. Wade among those rulings.
Ginsburg appears to have no intention of stepping down from the court while Trump is in office.
She underwent lung cancer surgery in December and returned to the bench in late February with a reported clean bill of health.
Ginsburg previously survived colon cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009.
Last summer, the justice hinted at a timeline for her retirement. “My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90, so think I have about at least five more years,” she said during an interview.
If Ginsburg left the court at 90, that would fall in a potential second term for Trump.
The justice made the unusual move of taking sides in the 2016 presidential race with very public and negative statements to the press about then-candidate Trump.
Among other things, Ginsburg called the New York businessman a “faker” and fretted over what the country would become if he were in charge.
CORRECTION, April 2, 2019: As originally published, this article stated that Justice Ginsburg was the longest-serving justice on the Supreme Court. Justice Clarence Thomas holds that honor, though Ginsburg is the oldest Supreme Court justice currently serving.
We apologize to Justice Thomas, as well as to our readers for any confusion we may have caused.
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