President Donald Trump said that he believes Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will look at issues before the court similar to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, by applying the “law as written.”
Trump formally nominated Barrett on Saturday. During the announcement, the president described the judge as “one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds.” He said “she is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution.”
Democrats have strongly criticized Trump’s decision to nominate Barrett as well as Republicans efforts to move forward with the confirmation process ahead of the election on November 3.
In an interview with Fox News morning show Fox & Friends, which was broadcast on Sunday morning, Trump explained the reasoning behind his decision and why he believed Barrett was the right person to fill the vacancy on the court.
“Mostly, I’m looking for somebody that can interpret the Constitution as written,” the president said. “We say it all the time and [Barrett] is very strong on that.”
Trump said that he expected Barrett would apply a similar judicial philosophy to that of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016, saying she would “apply the law as written.”
The president also said that he had not discussed specific positions on abortion and gun rights with Barrett, but he believed from her past opinions she’d rule in a conservative way if cases were brought before the court. Trump pointed out that he’s already been surprised by some of the opinions the conservative-leaning court has put forward, suggesting that the court would not only rule in the way Republicans hope just because it had another conservative justice.
Barrett is deeply conservative and her nomination has been backed by anti-abortion groups, as she has criticized Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that cemented abortion rights nationwide. Democrats are concerned about how the nominee could rule on issues of reproductive rights, the Affordable Care Act (known as Obamacare), immigration issues and possibly even on the outcome of the presidential election—if it is contested.
Conservatives already enjoyed a five to four majority on the nine-member Supreme Court prior to the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg this month. Ginsburg, a liberal icon, died at 87 on September 18 after a long battle with cancer. Hours after her death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, had announced that he would move forward quickly to replace her. Trump and leading Republicans have urged for the process to be completed prior to the election.
In a statement emailed to Newsweek, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed to “strongly oppose” Barrett’s nomination, warning that American’s health care, reproductive rights and LGTBQ issues were on the line.
“Judge Barrett strongly criticized the ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act, claiming that if Justices read the law the way she does, they would ‘have had to invalidate’ the entire health care law. Her record also makes clear that if she is confirmed, the reproductive freedoms that millions of women hold dear would be in grave danger. Should Judge Amy Coney Barrett be confirmed, a far-right majority on the court could also turn back the clock on women’s rights and a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, voting rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, environmental protections and more. The future for DACA recipients also hangs in the balance with this nominee,” Schumer said.
Newsweek reached out to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for comment, but he did not respond by the time of publication. The former vice president shared a series of Twitter posts criticizing Barrett’s nomination.
“Today, President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court — a jurist with a written track record of disagreeing with the Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act. Vote like your health care is on the ballot — because it is,” Biden tweeted on Saturday.
“Supreme Court decisions affect our everyday lives, and the Constitution was designed to give voters a voice on who makes those decisions. The Senate shouldn’t act until after the American people select their next president and the next Congress,” the Democratic presidential candidate wrote in a follow-up post. “Americans deserve to be heard.”
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