The Republican is widely expected to choose Amy Coney Barrett, a federal judge in Indiana, to fill the vacancy that opened with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Barrett is “exactly the kind of justice President Trump wants, and that the country needs right now, so I think it will be her and that it should be,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) told The Epoch Times.
Ginsburg, a Clinton nominee, died at age 87 on Sept. 18 from cancer complications.
Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed 54-45 by the Senate in April 2017.
Gorsuch filled the seat left open a year prior by the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia, a Reagan nominee.
In 2018, Justice Anthony Kennedy, another Reagan nominee, opted to retire, giving Trump his second nomination.
Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed in a narrow 50-48 vote after weeks of tense deliberations that included the promotion by Democrats of unsubstantiated sexual assault allegations, several of which were later retracted.
Trump plans to announce his new nominee on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the White House in Washington. He has said he will choose a woman.
Shortly before Ginsburg’s death, the president expanded the list of judges and others he promised to draw from if another Supreme Court vacancy opened up while he was still in office.
The original list of 25 was expanded to 45.
Barrett, who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, was on the old list. Supporters say her well-developed record as a judge and scholar makes her a great choice, as does her adherence to the Constitution and sharp intellect.
“Time and time again, you hear people saying she’s the smartest person in the room,” Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network, told The Epoch Times.
Barrett’s Catholic faith came under attack by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, during a 2017 hearing before her confirmation to the federal court.
“Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that dogma and law are two different things. I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think, in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein told Barrett. “And that’s of concern.”
The senator said she was worried Barrett and Joan Larsen, another judicial candidate at the hearing, would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, which ruled that abortion is a constitutional right. Both Larsen and Barrett responded that they would not be in a position on lower federal courts to rule on Roe v. Wade and would follow precedent established by the Supreme Court.
“You really saw the grace under pressure when Senator Feinstein attacked her for her religious faith. She did not waver. She was very confident but kind, respectful, and firm in her response,” Severino said.
Earlier in the hearing, Barrett faced questioning from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who asked her about her writing that Catholic judges should recuse themselves from cases concerning the death penalty.
Barrett said she wrote the article 20 years prior, adding: “It’s never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge’s personal convictions, whether they derive from faith or anywhere else, on the law.”
She also said: “I’m a product of 19 years of Catholic education. And every once in a while, Holy Mother the Church has not agreed with a vote of mine. And has let me know.”
Lee told The Epoch Times that the recent reporting on Barrett’s faith signaled religious bigotry.
Barrett facing harsh scrutiny already from the Senate means she’s a known quantity that could potentially be approved quickly, before the Nov. 3 election.
Barrett and Barbara Lagoa, a federal judge in Florida, are the only women Trump has confirmed he’s considering. The president had narrowed down his choices to five.
Lagoa’s parents left Cuba to give their children a better future. Her background makes her an attractive choice for some, who say it would help bolster Trump’s reelection chances by garnering votes among Hispanics and in Florida.
Whoever Trump picks will be grilled by Judiciary Democrats as the president’s opposition seeks ways to derail his nominee.
Democrat congressional leaders have urged the Senate not to consider Trump’s nominee, arguing it’s too close to the election and expressing frustration with how the GOP-controlled upper chamber blocked President Barack Obama’s nominee in 2016.
But the bulk of Republican senators say there’s plenty of precedent for election-year nominations and that the same party controls the Senate and presidency this time around, making the situation much different than 4 years ago.
“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week, hours after Ginsburg died.
Jan Jekielek contributed to this report.