- President Donald Trump’s selection of Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court has teed up a colossal clash over religion and reproductive rights to play out in the final days before Election Day.
- Trump will nominate Barrett on Saturday, following Ginsburg’s death a week ago from complications due to pancreatic cancer.
- Barrett, a devoted Catholic, is a favorite among religious conservatives and a target of those on the left who say she is likely to vote to undo the court’s longstanding abortion protections.
Trump has sought to develop his anti-abortion credentials while in office, repeatedly pushing for a late-term abortion ban during his State of the Union addresses to Congress. Trump pledged during his 2016 campaign to nominate justices who would “automatically” overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion decision.
In contrast, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has moved further in favor of reproductive rights since announcing his presidential run, last year flipping his position to support federal funding of abortion via the repeal of the Hyde Amendment.
While the candidates had already staked out their positions, abortion was not one of the primary issues facing the campaigns before Ginsburg’s death. The specter of Barrett nomination hearings in the Senate will likely force that to change.
To be sure, any conservative judge on Trump’s shortlist was likely to inspire a fight over reproductive rights. Even before Barrett’s expected nomination, the political arm of the reproductive rights group Planned Parenthood announced a six-figure ad buy opposing Trump’s replacement of Ginsburg.
But Barrett’s past writings and statements have ensured that the fight over the future of Roe v. Wade is likely to be particularly hard fought. If Barrett is confirmed she will be Trump’s third justice on the nine-member bench and the sixth appointee of a Republican president.
Many of the battle lines were drawn when Trump nominated Barrett to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where she has sat since 2017.