The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has given Donald Trump and Senate Republicans the opportunity to install a 6-3 conservative majority on the US Supreme Court. Mr Trump told his party on Saturday they must move “without delay”.
Earlier this month, Mr Trump put out an updated list of more than 40 lawyers he would consider nominating to the Supreme Court if a vacancy arose. The list includes current federal judges, former Trump administration officials and Republican senators. The possible nominees have been carefully selected for their conservative bona fides.
On Saturday, Mr Trump said he would name a woman as his candidate next week.
Here are some of the possible frontrunners on the list.
Amy Coney Barrett
Mr Trump appointed Judge Barrett to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2017, and she is considered a leading candidate to replace Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. In 2019, Axios reported that the president had been “saving” Judge Barrett for Ginsburg’s seat.
The 48-year-old Notre-Dame professor is a devout Catholic and became a minor icon for conservative activists when Democrat Dianne Feinstein said at her 2017 confirmation hearing, “The dogma lives loudly within you”.
“Amy Coney Barrett is the one on everyone’s minds,” said Ilya Shapiro, a director at the conservative Cato Institute.
The first Hispanic woman to serve on the Florida Supreme Court, Judge Lagoa was appointed to the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit by Mr Trump last year. He added the 52-year-old to his list of possible Supreme Court nominees earlier this month.
Unlike many other Trump judicial nominees, Judge Lagoa’s appointment as an appeals court judge received bipartisan backing as the Senate confirmed her with a 80-15 vote.
Mr Trump picked Judge Grant to serve on the Eleventh Circuit in 2018. She had previously served on the Georgia state supreme court.
The 42-year-old is close to Brett Kavanaugh, who was the president’s second Supreme Court appointee. Grant previously clerked for Justice Kavanaugh, and he conducted her swearing in as an appeals court judge.
Also an appeals court judge, Judge Larsen was appointed by Mr Trump in 2017 to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The 51-year-old has been a law professor for much of her career and clerked for the late Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court justice viewed as an icon by conservatives.
Judge Eid has served on the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit since 2017, when Mr Trump appointed her to fill the seat left by Neil Gorsuch’s elevation to the Supreme Court. The 55-year-old had served on the Colorado Supreme Court for just over a decade before that.
If the president changes his mind about choosing a woman he could look to another one of his appointees, Amul Thapar. Judge Thapar was elevated to the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 2017 and has been among the frontrunners for previous Supreme Court vacancies under Mr Trump.
The 51-year-old would be the first justice of south Asian descent, and is considered a favourite of Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. Judge Thapar would get “a serious look,” said John Malcolm, a vice-president at the Heritage Foundation.
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