Who Is Amy Coney Barrett, the Judge Who May Fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Seat?

If nominated, Coney Barrett would be the youngest Supreme Court justice ever.

amy coney barrett

In just a few days, President Trump is expected to name his choice to replace the late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away on Friday. Trump has said multiple times the nominee will most likely be a woman, and one of the top contenders for the spot is Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The New Orleans native is one of five female candidates the President is officially considering, and many White House officials have said that Coney Barrett seems to be the clear front-runner for the position. If nominated, she would be the youngest Justice on the bench at 48 years old.

Updated 09/25: According to multiple Republican sources close to the process of choosing the new candidate, President Donald Trump plans to pick Amy Coney Barrett to be the new Supreme Court justice. "The machinery is in motion," said one of the sources to CNN. Reportedly, the decision is set to be announced Saturday afternoon.

"She was the plan all along. She's the most distinguished and qualified by traditional measures," explained a former senior administration official to CNN. "She has the strongest support among the legal conservatives who have dedicated their lives to the court. She will contribute most to the court's jurisprudence in the years and decades to come."

Coney Barrett is a former clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

After graduating summa cum laude from Notre Dame Law School, Coney Barrett began her career in 1998 to 1999 as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia before joining the school's faculty as a professor in 2002.

Many religious conservatives consider her an "ideological heir" to former conservative judge Scalia, and some fellow clerks say she was his favorite. Her peers have said she's a "textualist" like Scalia who, according to The New York Times, is "one who interprets the law based on its plain words, as opposed to someone who looks to accomplish the legislature’s purpose."

Where does she stand on Roe v. Wade?

Barrett has the backing of many conservatives and anti-abortion groups. But she's side-stepped questions about the topic in the past.

us supreme court justice antonin scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.


She's been praised by the President of the Susan B. Anthony List, Marjorie Dannenfelser, who leads the anti-abortion group: "She is the perfect combination of brilliant jurist and a woman who brings the argument to the court that is potentially the contrary to the views of the sitting women justices."

But Barrett has gone against some conservative decision in the past. According to the IndyStar, Barrett "called for the re-hearing of a case that struck down former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's 2016 abortion law, which prohibited abortions if the fetus was disabled."

In January 2013, at a lecture, Barrett also said it's "unlikely" that Roe v. Wade would ever be overturned, due to the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey. "I think it is very unlikely at this point that the court is going to overturn Roe or Roe as curbed by Casey. The fundamental element, that the woman has a right to choose abortion, will probably stand," said Barrett. "The controversy right now is about funding. It's a question of whether abortions will be publicly or privately funded."

At the very same lecture, she even went as far as to say Roe's existence continues to complicate things beyond the law, saying, "Republicans are heavily invested in getting judges who will overturn Roe, and Democrats are heavily invested in getting judges who will preserve the central holding of Roe. As a result, there have been divisive confirmation battles of a sort not seen before."

She was nominated by Trump to serve on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017.

While she was going through the vetting process, concerns were raised that Coney Barrett's judgment on certain cases could be swayed towards decisions that aligned with her religious preferences.

Barrett belongs to a small Catholic group called People of Praise who have members swear an oath of loyalty and therefore listen to its "senior members"—they're called a "head" for men and a "handmaid" for women, by the way—who direct members on important life decisions like who to marry, where to live, how to raise children and so on.

At the hearing for Barett, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein expressed her concern saying: "When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that's of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country."

To which Barett responded: "It's never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge's personal convictions, whether they arise from faith or anywhere else, on the law."

In the end, she was confirmed in a 55-43 vote by the Senate later that year. Three of those supporting votes were Democratic senators: Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and former Senator of Indiana, Joe Donnelly.

She met with President Trump recently.

According to The Hill, Barrett met with President Trump Monday at the White House. Sources say this shows that President Trump is seriously considering Barrett, along with Barbara Lagoa.

"She's one of the people that's very respected, but they're all respected," said Trump on Barrett. "She is certainly one of the candidates, yes."

This isn't her first time being considered, though. In 2018, Barrett was one of the many names on the list to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Still, the President ultimately went on to nominate Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Sources say that she does have an advantage since she's gone through the vetting process once before.


ruth bader ginsburg scotus

(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla)

Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. In addition to spearheading commerce content across brands—from writing about wardrobe must-haves and sales at major retailers to strategizing—she is also an avid reader with a deep love and knowledge for books of all genres. More often than not, you can find her lounging with a good book on the weekend.