Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 October 2020

The women tipped to replace RBG in US Supreme Court

Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa emerging as most likely candidates after President Donald Trump said he would pick a woman

Barbara Lagoa, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Florida Supreme Court via Reuters
Barbara Lagoa, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Florida Supreme Court via Reuters

US President Donald Trump's decision to nominate a woman to fill the vacancy in the US Supreme Court left by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has created two front-runners for the post.

Appeals court judges Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa are emerging as the most likely to be picked after Mr Trump announced his intention at a rally in North Carolina on Saturday. A third judge, Amul Thapar, had also been in the running until Mr Trump’s comment.

All three appeared on a long list of possible high-court picks that Mr Trump updated earlier this month. Ms Barrett and Mr Thapar were among the nominees whom the president considered before selecting Brett Kavanaugh for the court in 2018.

Ms Barrett, 48, a favorite of social conservatives, was appointed to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2017 after a tough confirmation battle. Mr Trump has said privately before that he was saving Ms Barrett as a nominee to replace Ginsburg.

“She’s very highly respected, I can say that,” Mr Trump told reporters at the White House Saturday, when asked about her. He later said at a rally: "I think it should be a woman – because I actually like women more than I like men.”

Amy Coney Barrett is a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Notre Dame University via Reuters
Amy Coney Barrett is a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Notre Dame University via Reuters

Any nominee would have to be approved by a majority in the US Senate, where Mr Trump's Republican party holds 53 of the 100 seats.

“She would be ideal in my mind,” said Indiana Senator Mike Braun, a Republican. The appointment of Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, on the eve of midterm elections, was crucial in driving Republican support at the polls, he said, crediting it with helping him and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley win their races.

“Republicans would expect that when we hold the Senate, and we’ve got the presidency, this is the most important thing to get done.”

Ms Lagoa, 52, a Miami-born judge on the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeal, has seen a quick ascent. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Trump ally, appointed her to the Supreme Court of Florida in 2019 – she was the first Cuban-American woman to serve on the court, and is bilingual – before Mr Trump nominated her to the Eleventh Circuit in September a year ago.

“She’s an extraordinary person, I’ve heard incredible things about her,” Mr Trump said Saturday. “I don’t know her. She’s Hispanic and highly respected.”

As a woman of Hispanic heritage from Florida, Ms Lagoa’s nomination could boost Mr Trump’s prospects of re-election. He is trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden in Florida and trailing widely among women, but polls show he is doing better among Hispanic voters than he did in 2016.

Updated: September 21, 2020 02:28 PM

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