After mourning the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the nation began to speculate whether President Trump would go against Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish and fill the vacancy left by her death, and more notably who he would fill her seat with.
But the President has made it clear that his official nomination will indeed be announced soon before the election, and that the nominee will most likely be a woman. So who are the potential nominees? The list seems to have been narrowed down to four; Amy Coney Barrett, Barbara Lagoa, Allison Jones Rushing, and Joan Larsen.
Amy Coney Barrett
Amy Coney Barrett currently serves as a judge in the Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. She was said to have reportedly been on the shortlist to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2018. While that seat was eventually filled by now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Trump has reportedly told advisors that he was saving Coney Barrett in the case of RBG’s passing later in his term according to the New York Times. The judge grew up in Louisiana, surrounded and immersed in Catholic faith which she still practices and is involved in today. Before becoming a judge, Coney Barett was a law professor at Notre Dame University where she wrote a letter criticizing Chief Justice John Roberts for his decision to push to save the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obama Care, has become a crucial issue in the nomination of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's successor as their position on the federal statute could potentially mark the end for it. Her position on another crucial issue, abortion, is one differing from her conservative and Catholic counterparts. After judges had determined an Indiana law requiring that after an
abortion, fetal remains must be cremated or buried, Barrett voted to rehear the case (NBC). Furthermore, in a 2016 discussion at Jacksonville University surrounding abortion rights and the court case Roe V. Wade, Coney Barrett said that she doesn’t believe that the core of the case allowing women to have a right to an abortion would change, "but I think the question of whether people can get very late-term abortions, how many restrictions can be put on clinics, I think that would change." This position on abortion rights was shocking to many due to her conservative affiliation and strong Catholic beliefs. However, her position on many other issues falls into line with the conservative bent. When the appeals court upheld a decision restricting the 2nd Amendment rights of a felon convicted of mail fraud, Coney Barrett dissented, saying that non-violent offenders should not lose their constitutional right to firearms possession. Similarly, she defended President Trump’s administration's rule penalizing immigrants for needing benefits, denying them permanent residence they became regular users of public assistance. She additionally helped to block the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's attempt to stop an employer from transferring Chicago-area employees based on their race or ethnicity. Barrett has been said to be the favored nominee of the president’s base, but no one will truly be sure until the president’s announcement stating his official nominee.
Barbara Lagoa, a Cuban American who has previously served on Florida’s 3rd U.S. District Court of Appeals and the Florida Supreme Court, is also said to be one of the president’s top potential nominees. The Columbia Law School graduate was the first Hispanic woman appointed to the Supreme Court of Florida. She is a very new federal judge as her confirmation by Governor Ron DeSantis was just in January of this past year. Lagoa is extremely popular and well-known among Republicans in Florida, a crucial state to President Trump’s possible reelection, causing her possible nomination to be a very politically advantageous pick for his campaign. While she is known as a conservative, Lagoa's views on social issues are lesser known amongst the public, which has led to uncertainty amongst the president’s base. However, this could give her an advantage to get through the Senate at an easier rate than other potential nominees. In the past, conservatives have been disappointed when justices who have had lesser known views have been confirmed and then vote more moderately once in office. Regardless, Lagoa is extremely favored amongst Hispanic voters, especially conservatives, which could secure their votes for President Trump’s possible reelection.
Allison Jones Rushing
Another potential choice to fill a Supreme Court vacancy is Allison Jones Rushing. She has served on the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals since her Senate confirmation in March 2019. Being on the younger side of the president’s picks, a nomination to the Supreme Court would allow her to possibly serve for decades to come through multiple administrations. She graduated from Wake Forest University and then attended Duke University School of Law where she was the executive editor of the Duke Law Journal. She then became a law student intern at a conservative Christian nonprofit organization
titled the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) which has said to oppose LGBTQ+ rights. After graduating she became a clerk for Judge Neil Gorsuch of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and later Judge David B. Sentelle of the United States
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Jones Rushing has previously justified the Defense Marriage Act which defined marriage as the union of just a man and a woman. According to The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Jones Rushing declared the “reasons for the law [as] both moral and practical” in the 2013 speech, “Enemies of Mankind: Religion and Morality in the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Jurisprudence.” With Jones Rushing now in the spotlight, many anti-LGBTQ+ actions connected to ADF have been brought to the surface, causing Jones Rushing to face scrutiny due to her strong ties to the organization. President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Vanita Gupta, has said that "her record clearly shows she will not be a fair and independent judge,” and that her nomination could be “a reality with dire consequences for Fourth Circuit cases and the American people."
Iowa native Joan Larsen is also said to be one of President Trump’s top picks for the Supreme Court seat. After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa, she attended Northwestern University School of Law, graduating first in her class. If Larsen is appointed to the Supreme Court, she would be the only justice that has not attended an Ivy League university. She has spent most of her career as a professor at the
University of Michigan Law School. In the past, she clerked for David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and for Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court of the United States. During George W. Bush's administration, she served as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel. In 2015 she was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court, and later in 2017 was appointed by President Trump as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Similar to potential nominee Barrett, Larsen was also rumored to be on the president’s shortlist for the Supreme Court seat currently filled by Judge Kavanaugh. During Larsen’s tenure, she did not address any pressing social issues. However, due to her close past ties to the late Justice Scalia, many presume that she may vote to overrule decisions legalizing abortion rights, gay marriage, and other rulings that Scalia and his followers opposed.
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