President Donald Trump is expected to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett Saturday to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
A source close to Barrett told CNA Friday that the judge, who met with Trump this week, expects to be nominated to the post.
Several news outlets, including CNN and the NY Times, reported Friday that they had received confirmation of Trump’s intention from the White House.
Trump is not known to have interviewed other candidates for the job, but sources stressed that the president could change his mind, even while he is reportedly indicating that Barrett is his selection.
Born in New Orleans, the eldest of seven children, Barrett graduated from Rhodes College before receiving a full scholarship to Notre Dame Law School where she graduated first in her class.
Barrett went on to clerk for Judge Laurence Silberman and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, before going into private practice. She returned to Notre Dame Law School and taught classes in 2002 before becoming a professor in 2010.
Barrett has praised Scalia as an intellectual mentor and for his dedication to textualism, which holds that the Constitution should be interpreted with the context in which it was written.
In a November 2016 event in Jacksonville addressing a previous vacancy on the Supreme Court, Barrett stated that Scalia “resisted the notion that the Supreme Court should be in the business of imposing its views of social mores on the American people,” and that he thought it should be “up to the people to decide” things in the Constitution that weren’t explicitly banned or permitted.
Barrett’s selection is widely anticipated, with many media outlets touting her as the leading candidate for the nomination. She has already faced concerted media scrutiny and criticism for her Catholic faith.
During her 2017 nomination hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) questioned her on her personal faith and values, saying that “when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”
Just weeks after she was confirmed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett was added to President Donald Trump’s list of potential future Supreme Court picks, and was rumored to have been one of the finalists to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy upon his retirement in 2018.
Barrett and her husband have seven children, including two adopted from Haiti. In a 2019 interview at a Notre Dame alumni event in Washington, DC, Barrett said that raising children is “where you have your greatest impact on the world” and that she could imagine no greater thing.
Amid renewed scrutiny of Barrett’s personal life and beliefs, and facing the likelihood of a tough confirmation process if nominated, Princeton University Professor Robert George highlighted anti-Catholic tropes again being used in criticism of the judge.
“One would have hoped that having brought shame on themselves last time, and blunted their spear on Judge Barrett by attacking her religion, they would be more careful this time about exposing their bigotry to public view. But no,” he said on Twitter.
During Barrett’s confirmation hearings, questions were also raised about Barrett’s association with the lay organization People of Praise.
People of Praise has been referred to in the media as a “cult,” and criticized for a practice, which has since been changed, that called leaders “heads” and “handmaidens”–both of which are references to Biblical passages.
But the group is an ordinary expression of the Christian desire for community and holiness, Bishop Peter Smith, a member of the organization, told CNA, and not a cause for concern.
People of Praise was founded in 1971 as part of a “great emergence of lay ministries and lay movements in the Catholic Church,” following Vatican Council II.
The group began with 29 members who formed a “covenant”- an agreement, not an oath, to follow common principles, to give five percent of annual income to the group, and to meet regularly for spiritual, social, and service projects.
Covenant communities- Protestant and Catholic- emerged across the country in the 1970s, as a part of the Charismatic Renewal movement in American Christianity.