By Tyler Olson | Fox News
President Trump has said that he will nominate a successor to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – a trailblazer for women’s rights and the face of the liberal bloc on the Supreme Court – by the end of the week, putting a sharp focus on the top contenders for his nomination.
Four names have been widely floated: 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett; 11th Circuit Judge Barbara Lagoa; 4th Circuit Judge Allison Jones Rushing, and 6th Circuit Judge Joan Larsen.
All four of the women were nominated to their current posts on the federal appeals courts by Trump and are on his larger, pre-vetted list of potential Supreme Court nominees. The fact that they all have experience on the federal bench and have been through the Senate confirmation process before could help the Senate Republican majority more quickly move along the nomination of whomever Trump chooses.
7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett; 11th Circuit Judge Barbara Lagoa; 4th Circuit Judge Allison Jones Rushing and 6th Circuit Judge Joan Larsen are the top contenders for President Trump’s Supreme Court nomination.
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But no matter who the president picks, she will be at the center of what is likely to be one of the nastiest political battles in recent American history as Democrats ramp up a major campaign to hold open the Ginsburg seat and both sides indicate they will spend millions of dollars messaging on the nomination.
Here’s what to know about the women who could be the next Supreme Court justice.
Amy Coney Barrett
Barrett, a 48-year-old former law professor at Notre Dame, is a favorite of religious conservatives due to her Catholic faith – which has also caused Democrats to attack her.
“The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern,” Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told Barrett during the confirmation hearing for her current post in 2017. Barrett was eventually confirmed 55-43.
She previously clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Barrett was in the mix for the seat Trump eventually nominated Justice Brett Kavanaugh to but was passed over. Axios reported that Trump at the time said he was “saving her for Ginsburg.”
Lagoa is 52 years old and previously served on the Florida Supreme Court. She is highly popular among political types in Florida, and some in the state are reportedly pushing Trump to nominate her because it could help the president win the important swing state.
Democratic pollster Fernand Amandi told Politico that if Trump chooses Lagoa it would be “a play for women, Hispanics and most importantly, Florida’s 29 electoral votes,” calling her “the conservative Cuban version of Sonia Sotomayor.”
Lagoa was confirmed to her appeals court post in an 80-15 vote in November 2019 with significant bipartisan support, including from Feinstein, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., also on the Judiciary Committee, and Sen Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a perpetual swing vote on judicial nominations. Some Republicans, however, see the Democratic support for Lagoa as a potential liability, indicating she might not be conservative enough on the Supreme Court.
Allison Jones Rushing
Rushing at 38 years old is on the younger side for a potential Supreme Court nominee and was confirmed to her current post in March 2019 on a 53-44 party-line vote.
Rushing is a favorite of evangelicals – an important well of support for President Trump. Besides that, she has impressive conservative bona fides. Rushing held three clerkships with conservative judicial luminaries: Judge David Sentelle on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, a Reagan appointee who is now the presiding judge of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court; then-Judge Neil Gorsuch on the 10th Circuit, who was later appointed by Trump to the Supreme Court; and Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.
Rushing has also had multiple stints at Williams & Connolly LLP, a top private firm that regularly works on Supreme Court cases, including time as a partner. And she also worked with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative legal group that is dedicated to protecting religious liberty.
Allison Jones Rushing is sworn in before a Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing on her nomination to be a United States circuit judge for the Fourth Circuit, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 17, 2018. Rushing is one of the top contenders to replace late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas – RC17B84A2220
Larsen previously served on the Michigan Supreme Court and was a University of Michigan faculty member before being appointed to the circuit court. She was confirmed to her current post on the appeals court 60-38, attracting some Democratic votes but not nearly as many as Lagoa.
She also clerked for Sentelle and Scalia and is a regular contributor to discussions for The Federalist Society, an association of conservative and libertarian lawyers.
Larsen, like Barrett, was reportedly one of six candidates interviewed by Trump to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2018. She’s an alumna of Northwestern University School of Law, which would make her an exception on the Supreme Court as it is largely made up of Ivy League law school grads.
Fox News’ Evie Fordham, Ronn Blitzer and John Roberts contributed to this report.
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