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Eric Spillman: Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett for US Supreme Court

Early Edition with Kate Hawkesby

US President Donald Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Saturday (US time), capping a dramatic reshaping of the federal judiciary that will resonate for a generation and that he hopes will provide a needed boost to his reelection effort.
Republican senators are already lining up for a swift confirmation of Barrett before the November 3 election, as they aim to lock in conservative gains in the federal judiciary before a potential transition of power. Trump, meanwhile, is hoping the nomination will serve to galvanise his supporters as he looks to fend off Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump hailed Barrett as "a woman of remarkable intellect and character," saying he had studied her record closely before making the pick.
"I looked and I studied, and you are very eminently qualified," he said as Barrett stood next to him in the Rose Garden.
An ideological heir to the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett would fill the seat vacated after the September 18 death of liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsberg, in what would be the sharpest ideological swing since Clarence Thomas replaced Justice Thurgood Marshall nearly three decades ago. She would be 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.
For Trump, whose 2016 victory hinged in large part on reluctant support from conservative and white evangelicals on the promise of filling Scalia's seat with a conservative, the latest nomination in some ways brings his first term full circle. Even before Ginsburg's death, Trump was running on having confirmed in excess of 200 federal judges, fulfilling a generational aim of conservative legal activists.

US President Donald Trump walks along the Colonnade with Judge Amy Coney Barrett after a news conference to announce Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court. (Photo / AP)
"This is my third such nomination after Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh, and it is a very proud moment indeed," Trump said in the Rose Garden.
Trump joked that the confirmation process ahead "should be easy" and "extremely non controversial", though it is likely to be anything. No court nominee has been considered so close to a presidential election before, and early voting is already underway. He encouraged Democrats to take up her nomination swiftly and to "refrain from personal and partisan attacks".
In 2016, Republicans blocked President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court to fill the election-year vacancy, saying voters should have a say in the lifetime appointment. Senate Republicans say they will move ahead, arguing the circumstances are different now the White House and Senate are controlled by the same party.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would vote "in the weeks ahead" on Barrett's confirmation, adding that Trump "could not have made a better decision" in nominating the appellate court judge.
The announcement came before Ginsburg was buried beside her husband next week at Arlington National Cemetery. On Friday, she was the first woman to lie in state at the Capitol, and mourners flocked to the Supreme Court for two days before that to pay respects.
The set design, with large American flags hung between the Rose Garden colonnades, appeared to be modelled on the way the White House was decorated when President Bill Clinton named Ginsburg as his nominee in 1993.
Barrett said she was "truly humbled" by the nomination, adding she would be "mindful of who came before me". She praised Ginsburg upon accepting the nomination, saying: "She has won the admiration of women across the country and indeed all across the world."
Within hours of Ginsburg's death, Trump made clear he would nominate a woman for the seat, and later volunteered he was considering five candidates. But Barrett was the early favourite, and the only one to meet Trump.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett. (Photo / AP)
Barrett has been a ju...
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