Following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday of complications from pancreatic cancer, President Donald Trump confirmed on Monday that he will nominate a woman for the empty slot on the court by the end of this week.
Interviewed on Fox and Friends, the president said he has four, or perhaps five potential nominees he is considering. The president recently referenced three of those he is likely to choose from: Amy Coney Barrett, a judge on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Barbara Lagoa, a judge on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Allison Jones Rushing, a judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. All three were appointed to their current positions by President Trump.
Here’s what we know about each of these distinguished jurists.
Photo from MATT CASHORE/NOTRE DAME/REUTERS
Amy Coney Barrett
Judge Barrett was appointed to the 7th Circuit in Chicago in 2017. Prior to that, she taught constitutional law and other legal subjects at Notre Dame beginning in 2002. She’s also clerked for Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, as well as Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court.
She and her husband, Jesse, have seven children, including two adopted from Haiti.
One notable moment in her 2017 Senate confirmation hearings occurred in an exchange with Senator Diane Feinstein over Barrett’s Roman Catholic faith. Feinstein questioned Barrett as to whether she could separate her faith from her duties as a judge, and this statement from Feinstein followed:
“Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that — you know, dogma and law are two different things. And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case, professor, 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 years in this country.”
Feinstein’s “the dogma lives loudly within you” criticism raised constitutional issues at the time, since Article VI, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution forbids religious tests for federal officials.
Barrett was confirmed in a 55-43 Senate vote. She is 48 years old.
Photo from FLORIDA SUPREME COURT/REUTERS
Judge Lagoa was appointed to the 11th Circuit in December 2019. Prior to that, she spent all of 2019 as a Justice of Florida’s Supreme Court, appointed to that position by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. She was the first Hispanic woman and first woman of Cuban descent to serve on that court. Prior to joining Florida’s high court, she had served as a judge on the state appellate court since 2006.
Lagoa earned her law degree at Columbia Law School in 1992. She worked for a private law firm in general and commercial litigation before being named Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida in 2003, where she prosecuted many cases as part of the Civil, Major Crimes and Appellate section of that office.
Lagoa’s Senate confirmation vote was 80-15.
Judge Lagoa is married to attorney Paul C. Huck, Jr., and they have three daughters. Lagoa is 52 years old.
Photo from Yuri Gripas/REUTERS
Allison Jones Rushing
Rushing was appointed to the 4th Circuit in 2019. A magna cum laude graduate of Duke University Law School in 2007, she went on to clerk for then-Judge Neil Gorsuch when he sat on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, then for Judge David Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. After joining a private law firm for a year, she then clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during the 2010-11 term. She then rejoined her law firm until her appointment to the 4th Circuit.
During her confirmation hearings, Rushing was asked about her ties to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a public interest law firm that defends freedom of speech and religion in the nation’s courts. She is part of ADF’s Blackstone Legal Fellowship program which “prepares Christian law students for careers marked by integrity, excellence, and leadership.”
Rushing was confirmed by the Senate in a vote of 53-44. She is 38 years old.
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