|In this May 19, 2018, file photo, Amy Coney Barrett, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit judge, speaks during the University of Notre Dame's Law School commencement ceremony at the university, in South Bend, Ind. AP|
US President Donald Trump has pledged to pick a woman for the vacancy on the US Supreme Court, following the death of justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week. The appointment to the court is for life, and must be confirmed by the Senate.
Trump had previously said his short-list for this vacancy had five names on it, but on Friday he said he had made his choice. Media reports said Judge Amy Coney Barrett had risen to the top and is expected to be his nominee. A Republican, Trump has campaigned on a pledge to appoint conservative judges and has a record of fulfilling that promise in hundreds of judicial appointments to the federal courts.
Widely seen as the front-runner, Barrett is a staunch conservative who has served on the US Court of Appeals in Illinois since 2017. On Friday multiple US outlets reported that Barrett is the president's pick, although Trump declined to confirm the reports.
The 48-year-old mother of seven from Louisiana spent much of her career as an academic at the University of Notre Dame, a Catholic school. She herself is a devout Catholic, though she belongs to the charismatic community.
She was appointed to the bench by Trump, and faced a heated battle in the Senate, as many Democrats worried about her political and religious views. Her confirmation was a narrow, largely party-line vote in the Senate.
"The dogma lives loudly within you, and that's a concern," a senior Democratic senator, Dianne Feinstein, said at her hearing. Barrett said her religion would not interfere with her judicial decisions. Feinstein's comment has come to be seen as highly controversial.
Barrett clerked under late Supreme Court justice Atonin Scalia, a conservative superstar. She is a proponent of Scalia's "textualist" legal philosophy, which interprets the US constitution based off its original wording, not in the current social context.
She has written extensively on the subject as an academic, though her judicial experience is more limited.
Democrats say Barrett might seek to overturn Roe v Wade, a landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that ensured a woman's right to obtain an abortion.
As a professor, Barrett voiced an idea that the "core" of the ruling could stand, even as states would be allowed to enforce more restrictions on access to the medical procedure.
She is favoured by the religious-conservative wing of Trump's coalition. (DPA)