President Donald Trump on Saturday announced that his Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy caused by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death will be a 'very talented, very brilliant woman' as 'I like women more than I like men'.
During a campaign rally in North Carolina on Saturday night that Trump branded a 'protest', he declared 'I will be putting forth a nominee this week, it will be a woman'.
Before he left the White House for the rally, Trump had named two conservative women who he has elevated to federal appeals courts as contenders, a move that would tip the court further to the right.
Trump, who now has a chance to nominate a third justice to a lifetime appointment on the court, named Amy Coney Barrett, 48, of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa, 52, of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees.
He praised Lagoa, in particular, as an 'extraordinary person'.
According to CNN, a source said that the announcement of the nomination could rely on when Ginsburg's burial takes place.
President Trump said Saturday his Supreme Court nominee is most likely to be a woman
'I have a shortlist, I’ve had a shortlist for a while. We added a number of people onto the list, the previous list, we have about 45 altogether. I do indeed have a short list,' Trump answered to a reporter's question before he left the White House by plane
'I’ve gotten to know many of them. I think it’s probably, from a legal standpoint, from a sophisticated understanding of the law, from a constitutional standpoint, I think it’s probably the greatest list ever assembled and I think that the other side should show their radical left list and you’d be surprised,' Trump added.
During his rally, as the crowd chanted 'Fill the Seat', Trump promised 'that’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to fill the seat'.
He added that the constitution states: 'The president shall nominate Justices of the Supreme Court, I don’t think it can be any more clear, can it?’
Trump claimed that despite the tight deadline before voters cast their ballots on November 3, there was still enough time for the Senate review process on a nomination to take place.
'Twenty-nine times a vacancy opened during an election year and every single time the sitting president made a nomination. That included George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or perhaps you've heard of him, the great Abraham Lincoln.
'Twenty-nine times, every single time, nobody said "let’s not fill the seat".
'We have plenty of time,' he added.
Earlier in the day, when pushed about whether the nominee would be a woman, the president answered: 'I could see most likely it would be a woman I think I can say that. If somebody were to ask me now I would say that a woman would be in first place. The choice of a woman would be appropriate.'
Even before Ginsburg's death, Trump had made public a list of potential nominees.
Barrett has generated perhaps the most interest in conservative circles. A devout Roman Catholic, she was a legal scholar at Notre Dame Law School in Indiana before Trump appointed her to the 7th Circuit in 2017.
A Barrett nomination would likely ignite controversy, as her strong conservative religious views have prompted abortion-rights groups to say that if confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she would likely vote to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
When questioned about her Saturday evening, Trump said: 'She’s very highly respected, I can say that.'
Amy Coney Barrett is among the frontrunners. She has generated perhaps the most interest in conservative circles. A devout Roman Catholic, she was a legal scholar at Notre Dame Law School in Indiana before Trump appointed her to the 7th Circuit in 2017
Trump praised Hispanic judge Barbara Lagoa as an 'extraordinary person'
Lagoa has served on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for less than a year after being appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate on an 80-15 vote. Prior to that she also spent less than a year in her previous position as the first Latina to serve on the Florida Supreme Court.
She previously spent more than a decade as a judge on an intermediate appeals court in Florida.
'She’s an extraordinary person, I’ve heard incredible things about her. She’s Hispanic and highly respected,' Trump said of Lagoa.
Another candidate Trump has considered previously is Amul Thapar. He was a district court judge in Kentucky - the first federal judge of South Asian descent - before Trump appointed him to the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit in 2017.
Ginsburg's death on Friday from cancer after 27 years on the court handed Trump, who is seeking re-election on November 3, the opportunity to expand its conservative majority to 6-3 at a time of a gaping political divide in America.
Conservative activists for years have sought to get enough votes on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. During the 2016 campaign, Trump promised to appoint justices who would overturn that decision.
But the court in July, even with its conservative majority, struck down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law on a 5-4 vote.
On Saturday afternoon, Trump named Amy Coney Barrett, 48, of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa, 52, of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees.
Emerging as the favorite is Barrett, 48, a mother of seven, including two adopted from Haiti and one with special needs.
Her involvement in a cult-like Catholic group where members are assigned a 'handmaiden' has caused concern in Barret's nomination to other courts and is set to come under fierce review again if she is Trump's pick.
Barrett emerges now as a front runner after she was already shortlisted for the nomination in 2018 which eventually went to Brett Kavanaugh.
Trump called the federal appellate court judge 'very highly respected' when questioned about her Saturday.
Born in New Orleans in 1972, she was the first and only woman to occupy an Indiana seat on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Married to Jesse M. Barrett, a partner at SouthBank Legal in South Bend and former Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, the couple have five biological and two adopted children.
Their youngest biological child has special needs.
Barrett's strong Christian ideology makes her a favorite of the right but her involvement in a religious group sometimes branded as a 'cult' is set to be harshly criticized.
In 2017, her affiliation to the small, tightly knit Christian group called People of Praise caused concern while she was a nominee for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
The New York Times reported that the practices of the group would surprise even other Catholics with members of the group swearing a lifelong oath of loyalty, called a covenant, to one another.
They are also assigned and held accountable to a personal adviser, known until recently as a 'head' for men and a 'handmaid' for women and believe in prophecy, speaking in tongues and divine healings.
Members are also encouraged to confess personal sins, financial information and other sensitive disclosures to these advisors.
Advisors are allowed to report these admissions to group leadership if necessary, according to an account of one former member.
The organization itself says that the term 'handmaid' was a reference to Jesus's mother Mary's description of herself as a 'handmaid of the Lord.' They said they recently stopped using the term due to cultural shifts and now use the name 'women leaders.'
The group deems that husbands are the heads of their wives and should take authority over the family while 'the heads and handmaids give direction on important decisions, including whom to date or marry, where to live, whether to take a job or buy a home, and how to raise children,' the Times reported.
Unmarried members are placed living with married couples members often look to buy or rent homes near other members.
Founded in 1971, People of Praise was part of the era's 'great emergence of lay ministries and lay movements in the Catholic Church,' founder Bishop Peter Smith told the Catholic News Agency.
Beginning with just 29 members, it now has an estimated 2,000.
According to CNA, some former members of the People of Praise allege that leaders exerted undue influence over family decision-making, or pressured the children of members to commit to the group.
At least 10 members of Barrett's family, not including their children, also belong to the group.
Barrett's father, Mike Coney, serves on the People of Praise's powerful 11-member board of governors, described as the group's 'highest authority.'.
The group's ultra-conservative religious tenets helped spur author Margaret Atwood to publish The Handmaid's Tale, a story about a religious takeover of the U.S. government which is now a hit TV show, according to a 1986 interview with the writer.
According to legal experts, loyalty oaths such at the one Barrett would have taken to People of Praise could raise legitimate questions about a judicial nominee's independence and impartiality.
'These groups can become so absorbing that it's difficult for a person to retain individual judgment,' said Sarah Barringer Gordon, a professor of constitutional law and history at the University of Pennsylvania.
'I don't think it's discriminatory or hostile to religion to want to learn more' about her relationship with the group.
'We don't try to control people,' said Craig S. Lent. 'And there's never any guarantee that the leader is always right. You have to discern and act in the Lord.
'If and when members hold political offices, or judicial offices, or administrative offices, we would certainly not tell them how to discharge their responsibilities.'
During her professional career, Barrett spent two decades as a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, from which she holds her bachelor's and law degrees.
A former clerk for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, she was nominated by Trump to serve on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017 and confirmed in a 55-43 vote by the Senate later that year.
At the time, three Democratic senators supported her nomination: Joe Donnelly (Ind.), who subsequently lost his 2018 reelection bid, Tim