President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Saturday during a ceremony at the White House.
Senate Republicans are readying for confirmation hearings in two weeks with a vote in the full chamber now expected before Election Day. Democrats are essentially powerless to block the votes.
Within hours of Ginsburg’s death, Trump made clear his intention to nominate a woman in her stead after previously putting two men on the court, and as he struggles to mitigate an erosion in support among suburban women.
Before Barrett’s nomination, the White House concluded a round of vetting earlier this month, and Trump released an additional 20 names he would consider for the court.
The staunch conservative’s 2017 appeals court confirmation on a party-line vote included allegations that Democrats were attacking her Catholic faith.
Trump allies see that as a political windfall for them should Democrats attempt to do so once again. Catholic voters in Pennsylvania, in particular, are viewed as a pivotal demographic in the swing state that Democratic nominee Joe Biden, also Catholic, is trying to recapture.
Vice President Mike Pence defended Barrett when asked whether her affiliation with People of Praise, a charismatic Christian community, would complicate her ability to serve on the high court.
“I must tell you the intolerance expressed during her last confirmation about her Catholic faith I really think was a disservice to the process and a disappointment to millions of Americans,” he told ABC News.
Though the court can break down along ideological lines in high-profile cases, Chief Justice John Roberts and his colleagues resist the idea they are politicians in robes and emphasize that they agree more than they disagree.
Still, Barrett’s appointment would make the court more conservative.
It would be transformed from a court divided 5-4 between conservatives and liberals to one in which six members are conservatives appointed by Republican presidents.
Barrett, 48, has been a judge since 2017 when Trump nominated her to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
But as a longtime University of Notre Dame law professor, she had already established herself as a reliable conservative in the mold of Antonin Scalia, for whom she clerked in the late 1990s.
She is the sixth justice on the nine-member court to be appointed by a Republican president and the third of Trump’s first term in office.