Democrats have expressed outrage at the rush and accused Republicans of rank hypocrisy given their treatment of Judge Garland, but they have few options for slowing the nomination, much less stopping it. Instead, they have focused on making Republicans pay at the ballot box and debated ways to counteract Mr. Trump’s influence on the court if they win the election.
Mr. Trump met with Judge Barrett at the White House on Monday and Tuesday and was said to like her personally. While he said he had a list of five finalists, he never interviewed anyone else for the job and passed over Judge Barbara Lagoa of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, who appealed to campaign advisers in particular because of her Cuban-American heritage and roots in Florida, a critical battleground state in the presidential contest.
Despite Mr. Trump’s penchant for drama and the intrigue that surrounded his first two picks for seats on the Supreme Court, the selection process since Justice Ginsburg died last Friday has been fairly low-key and surprisingly predictable. The president has long signaled that he expected to put Judge Barrett on the court and has been quoted telling confidants in 2018 that he was “saving her for Ginsburg.”
If confirmed, Judge Barrett would become the 115th justice in the nation’s history and the fifth woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court. At 48, she would be the youngest member of the current court as well its sixth Catholic. And she would become Mr. Trump’s third appointee on the court, more than any other president has installed in a first term since Richard M. Nixon had four, joining Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh.
Judge Barrett graduated from Notre Dame Law School and later joined the faculty. She clerked for Justice Scalia and shares his constitutional views. She is described as a textualist who interprets the law based on its plain words rather than seeking to understand the legislative purpose and an originalist who applies the Constitution as it was understood by those who drafted and ratified it.
She has been a judge for only three years, appointed by Mr. Trump to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2017. Her confirmation hearing produced fireworks when Democratic senators questioned her public statements and Catholicism. That made her an instant celebrity among religious conservatives, who saw her as a victim of bias on the basis of her faith.
Judge Barrett and her husband, Jesse Barrett, a former federal prosecutor, are reported to be members of a small and relatively obscure Christian group called the People of Praise. The group grew out of the Catholic charismatic renewal movement that began in the late 1960s and adopted Pentecostal practices like speaking in tongues, belief in prophecy and divine healing. The couple have seven children, all under 20, including two adopted from Haiti and a young son with Down syndrome.