Just over a week after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, President Donald Trump announced his Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, as her potential replacement. The announcement came on Saturday, Sept. 26, and the decision to move forward with replacing Justice Ginsburg remains a controversial choice so close to the presidential election. Here's what to know about Trump's latest Supreme Court nominee — and what happens next.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) died on Friday, Sept. 18, due to complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer, which left an open seat on the Supreme Court. On Monday, Sept. 21, Trump told Fox & Friends he would announce a Supreme Court nominee soon after the funeral services on "Friday" or "Saturday."
As promised, Trump announced Barrett as his nominee on Saturday. Prior to the live announcement, several media outlets reported Barrett would be Trump's likely pick. Barrett, 48, is currently on the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, to which she was appointed (by Trump) in 2017, and is known for her conservative record on major political issues including abortion, gun rights, immigration, and more. The former University of Notre Dame law professor was introduced by Trump in a White House live-stream, and spoke a few words about her nomination and commemorated Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her speech. Watch the full announcement video below.
Even as Trump speeds this process along, you can still expect the time from nomination to a confirmation, rejection, or withdrawal, to average around 25 days, according to The New York Times. The longest it's ever taken the Senate to confirm a nominee is 125 days — in recent years, the average time between the announcement of a nominee and a final vote is just about 70 days, per the Congressional Research Service. Following nomination, the nominee must answer an elaborate questionnaire, which is often "hundreds of pages long," per the Times. Then, there are background checks, private meetings with senators, a "mock questioning" board, and public confirmation hearings, which last about three to four days.
The second to last step is when the Judiciary Committee refers the nominee to the full Senate, favorably, unfavorably, or without recommendation. Finally, Senate must have a majority vote to appoint the nominee to the Supreme Court.
For Barrett, this process started almost immediately after the news of Ginsburg's death, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put out a memo saying he planned to hold a vote — four years after he blocked President Barack Obama's nominee Merrick Garland in 2016, in the name of preserving that power for the next president. Garland was nominated to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February of that year. At the time, Election Day was still nine months away, and McConnell and other Republican senators refused to vote on Obama's nominee. The spot was later filled by President Trump's nominee, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Cut to 2020, and Democrats are asking GOP senators to abide by their own precedent. As of publication on Sept. 26, only two senators, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have said they would reserve this seat for the winner of the 2020 election. Trump's Sept. 26 announcement marks his third Supreme Court nomination, as he previously nominated Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and Neil Gorsuch in 2017.
The next step is for Barrett to receive a hearing and possibly be confirmed by the Senate, which will likely be a turbulent process.