“Stand up for the Constitution you swore to uphold,” Joe Biden said. Republicans promised to fast-track Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination. Most voters believe the winner of the presidential election should decide who will fill the open Supreme Court seat, a Times poll shows.
By painting Joe Biden as weak, Trump risks setting the bar too low for the debate.
“Yesterday before Justice Ginsburg could be laid to rest. And after hundreds of thousands of Americans had already cast their ballots. The president nominated a successor to her seat. It’s no mystery about what’s happening here. President Trump was trying to throw out the Affordable Care Act. He’s been trying to do it for the last four years. We are still in the midst of the worst global health crisis in a century, a that crisis has already taken over 200,000 lives. Between 750 and 1,000 lives a day and counting. And yet, the Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court right now as I speak to eliminate the entire Affordable Care Act. The administration filed a brief in the Supreme Court that concludes, and I quote, the entire A.C.A. thus must fall. The constitution provides one chance, one, for the Americans to have their voices heard on who serves a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court. Who makes those big decisions about their healthcare, their civil rights and much else. That chance is now. That moment is now. And the voters in my view, are not going to stand for this abuse of power. And if we are to call ourselves a democracy, their voices must be heard. I urge the American people to keep voting and to let your current senators know that you want to be heard before a vote on confirmation of a new justice. And I urge every senator to take a step back from the brink. Take off the blinders of politics for just one critical moment. And stand up for the constitution, you swore to uphold.”
Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Sunday again implored Republican senators not to jam through President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee before Election Day, suggesting the country’s democracy was at stake and pleading with them to “stand up for the Constitution you swore to uphold.”
In his first public remarks since Mr. Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Saturday, Mr. Biden, the Democratic nominee, struck a forceful but measured tone, cautioning Republicans that voters “are not going to stand for this abuse of power.”
But even as many Democrats fume and lash out at Mr. Trump and Republicans, Mr. Biden expressed faith in Republicans, saying he had “great respect for a number of my Republican colleagues,” and urging them to “do the right thing.”
“There are Senate Republicans out there who know in their hearts that if you shut out the voices of those during a voting period, during an election — they are closing the door to American democracy thereafter,” he said. “This is where the power of the nation resides — in the people, in the rule of law, in precedents we abide by. To subvert both openly and needlessly, even as Americans cast their vote would be an irreversible step toward the brink and a betrayal of a single quality that America has born and built on — the people decide.”
“I urge every senator to take a step back from the brink — take off the blinders of politics for just one critical moment and stand up for the Constitution you swore to uphold,” Mr. Biden said. “This is a time to de-escalate.”
Since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday, Mr. Biden and the Democratic Party have been determined to frame the Supreme Court battle around the real-word consequences that 6-3 conservative court could pose, including to health care. Echoing previous remarks he has made about the Supreme Court, Mr. Biden warned that a conservative court would overturn the Affordable Care Act.
“It’s no mystery about what’s happening here,” he said. “President Trump is trying to throw out the Affordable Care Act.”
Regarding Judge Barrett, he noted her “written track record of disagreeing adamantly with the Supreme Court’s decision” to uphold the Affordable Care Act.
After President Trump announced his intention on Saturday to usher Judge Amy Coney Barrett into the Supreme Court before Election Day, attention turns now to whether Republicans can successfully execute a confirmation at warp speed, and whether voters will reward or punish the appointment that would cement a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the court.
Republicans have vowed that Judge Barrett, who was greeted with a rousing reception from conservative activists and politicians, would have a frictionless path to the bench. Senate Republicans appear to have the votes they need to push through the nomination over Democratic opposition, and the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee has created a fast-tracked schedule.
The White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning that Republicans will be issuing a “pretty aggressive schedule for hearings” and that he expected a final vote on the Senate floor before the election.
Democrats are largely powerless to stop the march to confirmation, but hope to exact a political price for the rushed process that a majority of Americans have said they do not support. A national poll conducted by The New York Times and Siena College found that 56 percent of likely voters said the next president should fill the seat, compared to 41 percent who said Mr. Trump should fill it.
Democrats have sought to convey that Ms. Barrett’s judicial philosophy would imperil abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act, injecting more highly polarizing issues into a campaign already contending with a still-raging pandemic and a national reckoning over racism. Democrats aim to reclaim both the presidency and control of the Senate, and hope the Supreme Court fight could put vulnerable Republicans into thornier positions.
But seating Ms. Barrett would be a major victory for conservatives, who see her as a reliable successor to Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she once served as a clerk. A former Notre Dame law professor who now sits on a federal appeals court in Chicago, she is a favorite of anti-abortion activists and has an almost uniformly conservative record on issues like gun rights, immigration and discrimination.
And at 48 years old, she could serve on the court for decades, moving the court to the right long after Mr. Trump leaves office.
On Saturday, he told reporters before leaving for a rally in Middletown, Pa., that he expected Judge Barrett to be confirmed before Nov. 3.
Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said that during confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the Supreme Court nominee, he would question her on “the future of health care in the midst of a pandemic,” alluding to a case before the Supreme Court that could potentially overturn the Affordable Care Act and adding that there is “no more important” an issue.
“I want to ask her point blank whether or not her position is that we should end the Affordable Care Act,” Mr. Durbin said.
Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan went further, suggesting that Judge Barrett “will be the vote” to declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional if confirmed to the Supreme Court, alluding to a 2017 law review article in which Judge Barrett had criticized Chief Justice John G. Roberts for upholding one of the health care law’s central provisions.
Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, dismissed concerns of how Judge Barrett may rule on the Affordable Care Act on the same show.
“Unless Debbie’s clairvoyant, I don’t think she knows how the nominee’s going to vote, or any other member of the United States Supreme Court,” Mr. Kennedy said.
But Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, seemed to add fuel to the fire when he insisted during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” that the Affordable Care Act is in fact unconstitutional, and that Judge Barrett would not be wrong to come to the same conclusion, though he conceded that he has “no idea how she would rule in this particular case.”
Senate Republicans have largely tried to steer clear of an issue they see as a political liability, but not President Trump, who said on Twitter on Sunday it would be “a big WIN for the USA” if the law was “terminated” by the court. He promised to replace it with “a MUCH better, and FAR cheaper, alternative,” but so far the president has only offered a vague and symbolic plan.
Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, also suggested that Mr. Trump had picked Judge Barrett for the court because of her statements about the act.
“It’s amazing to me that Judge Barrett has publicly criticized the decision by Chief Justice Roberts that upheld the constitutionality of the A.C.A.,” Mr. Coons said on CBS’s “Face the Nation. “President Trump is making it clear: A vote for Judge Barrett to be on the Supreme Court is a vote to repeal the A.C.A.”
Mr. Durbin also expressed concern that Judge Barrett would be nominated to support Mr. Trump during expected legal disputes following the 2020 election, adding that he hopes that, if confirmed, she would recuse herself on the issue.
The White House chief of staff tried on Sunday to defend President Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, saying he was right to question the legitimacy of votes cast by mail even though there is no evidence that mail-in voting leads to fraud.
Mr. Trump’s refusal to make that commitment, undermining one of the most basic principles of democracy, led some Republican leaders to distance themselves. But the chief of staff, Mark Meadows, did not.
Asked on CBS why Mr. Trump was undermining confidence in the election, Mr. Meadows said, “I don’t know that he’s publicly undermining confidence as much as he’s stating the facts.”
He went on to defend Mr. Trump’s false claim that current voting processes were a “scam.”
“When we’ve got states that actually are doing things that you would qualify as a scam, when you start to look at allowing mail-in ballots to come in seven, nine days after Nov. 3, changing the laws through judges that actually are not legislators, I think that that’s a real problem,” he said.
Some states are accepting ballots that arrive after Election Day, but Nov. 3 remains the deadline for voters to mail those ballots. The extensions are meant to avoid a situation in which ballots cast on time are discarded because of postal delays.
Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, dodged a question on CNN about the president’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transition.
“We’ve been transferring the office of the presidency from one person to the next since 1796,” Mr. Cotton said. “I’m confident it’s going to happen again in January 2025, after President Trump finishes his second term.”
Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip, denounced Mr. Trump in fierce terms on ABC.
“To think that he would not accept the verdict of the election, and that he would make it clear that he’s filling this vacancy on the Supreme Court to make sure it tips his way if there’s an election contest, that is an outrage,” Mr. Durbin said. “No president has ever said that in our nation’s history.”
Another Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, said on CNN that he was worried less about Mr. Trump trying to stay in office by force than about him convincing his supporters that the election is illegitimate.
“We’re not trying to steal the election,” he said of Democrats. “We’re trying to count the votes.”
As Senate Republicans rushed to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court with voting already underway in the 2020 elections, senators took their talking points to the Sunday morning shows.
Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, repeated on CNN’s “State of the Union” what has become his party’s go-to justification for taking up Judge Barrett’s nomination four years after refusing to take up Judge Merrick Garland’s during an election year: that then, voters had delivered a “split decision” on which party should handle Supreme Court nominations, but now, Republicans control both the White House and the Senate.
“In 2018, we had about as clear a national referendum as we could,” Mr. Cotton said, referring to Republicans’ expansion of their Senate majority but not mentioning Democrats’ sweeping victories in the House.
Several polls in the past week have shown that most voters believe the winner of the coming election should choose Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement. Only 41 percent of voters in a national New York Times/Siena College poll said they wanted President Trump to nominate a justice before November.
Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a moderate who cast the only Democratic vote to confirm Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in 2018, said on CNN that he would not vote for Judge Barrett, noting that the Senate has never in American history confirmed a Supreme Court justice after July of an election year.
If it were true “what Tom has just said, that the people spoke overwhelmingly, what would they be afraid of?” Mr. Manchin said. “Then he shouldn’t have any concerns at all about waiting until after the election.”
Don McGahn, the former White House counsel, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that presidents had nominated Supreme Court justices during election years many times. It was the exact argument Democrats made and Republicans rejected in 2016.
Asked on CBS about how Democrats would try to oppose or delay Judge Barrett’s confirmation, Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, did not reveal anything about tactics.
Instead, he focused on Judge Barrett’s record, saying that she could vote to overturn the Affordable Care Act, Roe v. Wade and even Griswold v. Connecticut, which protects the right to use birth control.
“A vote for Judge Barrett to be on the Supreme Court is a vote to repeal the A.C.A. and take away health care protection from a majority of Americans,” he said.
President Trump has framed the first general election debate as a test for his opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Yet he has simultaneously set the bar so low for so long that many of his supporters — having watched unflattering, often manipulated clips of Mr. Biden in Trump campaign advertisements or on Fox News — are now expecting the president to mop the floor with an incoherent opponent in something resembling a W.W.E. match.
The misleading notion that Mr. Biden is too addled for the presidency has been driven by Mr. Trump since 2018, when he first started referring to the former vice president as Sleepy Joe. Since then, in speeches, in interviews and at his rallies, Mr. Trump has been crafting a narrative depicting the former vice president as having a diminished physical and mental stature, in the hope of making voters believe that Mr. Biden is unfit for office.
Brett O’Donnell, a Republican strategist who has coached candidates ahead of debates, said the Trump campaign might have given Mr. Biden an unintentional gift.
“In trying to message that Biden may be unfit for office, the campaign also may have lowered expectations on his debate performance,” Mr. O’Donnell said.
Most recently, the president floated the baseless conjecture that Mr. Biden was on performance-enhancing drugs. And on Sunday morning, given that Mr. Biden’s performance may exceed the low expectations that the president has set, Mr. Trump threw out the wild suggestion of a “drug test” before or after the debate. “Only drugs could have caused this discrepancy” in Mr. Biden’s debate performances, Mr. Trump tweeted, claiming the former vice president’s debates were “UNEVEN, to put it mildly.”
Joseph R. Biden Jr. picked up endorsements on Sunday from two men who could have vastly different appeals to voters: Tom Ridge, the Republican former governor of Pennsylvania and secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush, and Dwayne Johnson, a popular actor known as the Rock, who has dabbled in politics but has never endorsed a candidate.
Though they have little in common otherwise, Mr. Ridge and Mr. Johnson’s endorsements reflected the campaign’s outreach to voters who don’t reliably vote for Democrats. Mr. Ridge is a well-known Republican figure in the swing state of Pennsylvania, while Mr. Johnson is a political independent and centrist who has a large following among younger voters.
Mr. Johnson, the “Fast and Furious” actor who has teased the possibility of running for president himself, had a brief video chat with Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, who he said were “obviously experienced to lead.”
“Joe, you’ve had such an incredible career,” he said. “You’ve led, in my opinion, with great compassion and heart and drive, but also soul.”
As a political independent & centrist, I’ve voted for both parties in the past. In this critical presidential election, I’m endorsing @JoeBiden & @KamalaHarris. Progress takes courage, humanity, empathy, strength, KINDNESS & RESPECT. We must ALL VOTE: https://t.co/rZi1mxh8DC pic.twitter.com/auLbc8xDBv
Mr. Ridge, who was governor of Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2001, made his endorsement in an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer. He said he had never voted for a Democratic candidate for president before, but Mr. Trump “lacks the empathy, integrity, intellect and maturity to lead.” He has spoken out against the president several times in the past.
“I believe the responsible vote is for Joe Biden,” he wrote. “It’s a vote for decency. A vote for the rule of law. And a vote for honest and earnest leadership. It’s time to put country over party. It’s time to dismiss Donald Trump.”
For Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the Democratic Party that he now leads, the selection of Judge Amy Coney Barrett by President Trump on Saturday puts a name and a face to the urgent threat they believe a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court poses to decades of progressive laws and protections.
Instead, Democrats pressing to slow or stop the advancement of Mr. Trump’s pick are determined to frame the debate around the real-world consequences — especially on health care but also on abortion — of what would be the biggest ideological swing since Justice Clarence Thomas replaced the late Justice Thurgood Marshall.
For Mr. Trump, the choice of Judge Barrett represents a welcome chance to shake up a race in which he has been trailing in the polls, and potentially address a staggering gender gap by shoring up his standing with more conservative women who are alienated by his personal style and other elements of his record.
It also provides him with something of a leading woman as part of his 2020 ticket, and a ferocious confirmation battle that could shift some national attention away from a pandemic that has cost the lives of more than 200,000 Americans and toward the kind of culture war turf that Mr. Trump is most comfortable occupying.
A majority of Americans believe the winner of the November election should make the pick, according to a recent poll by The New York Times and Siena College. But in nominating Judge Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Mr. Trump has pushed to the forefront a complex new stew of factors as Republicans play up her personal story as an accomplished 48-year-old working mother of faith. It’s a development that could sway or mobilize key voting blocs on both sides of the aisle: evangelical and conservative Catholic voters, abortion-rights activists and opponents, women and young people.
All of those political crosscurrents will be on display on Tuesday, as Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden head into the first debate of the general election. A sizable share of the waning days of the campaign will be consumed by the court fight: Just the committee hearings and a final confirmation vote alone would account for more than 10 percent of the remaining calendar.
“It’s a little bit of a tricky balance Democrats are going to have to think through,” said Dan Sena, a Democratic strategist who oversaw the party’s takeover of the House of Representatives in 2018.
“Your base is going to want you to stand up and fight for a seat basically viewed as a Democratic-leaning seat,” Mr. Sena added. But depending on how the battle unfolds, he warned, it may “put people in hyperpartisan corners,” which could endanger Democratic gains with swing voters.
President Trump’s announcement that he would nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court immediately set off an intense partisan fight over her confirmation, with Republicans enthusiastically praising the judge for her sterling legal credentials and Democrats warning that she would dismantle health care protections and abortion rights.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, said Mr. Trump “could not have made a better decision.” He vowed again that Judge Barrett would receive a vote on the Senate floor “in the weeks ahead,” after her nomination is reviewed by the Judiciary Committee.
Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, wasted no time saying he would fight the nomination. He accused Mr. Trump and the Senate Republicans of “shamelessly rushing to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat less than 40 days before a presidential election.”
“The American people should make no mistake — a vote by any senator for Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions,” Mr. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said in a statement.
Mr. Schumer said Judge Barrett’s record “also makes clear that if she is confirmed, the reproductive freedoms that millions of women hold dear would be in grave danger.”
Several Democrats — including Senators Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — said they would not meet with Judge Barrett before her confirmation hearings.
Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he was committed to giving Judge Barrett “a challenging, fair, and respectful hearing,” even as he called her “highly qualified in all the areas that matter — character, integrity, intellect and judicial disposition.”
At least one moderate Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, did not say if she considered Judge Barrett a qualified nominee. She said only that she would meet with the judge, just as she had with Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court who was blocked by Senate Republicans four years ago.
“For weeks I have stated that I do not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to an election,” Ms. Murkowski said, adding, “I welcome the opportunity to meet with the Supreme Court nominee, just as I did in 2016.”
Senator Susan Collins of Maine, another moderate Republican, said in a statement: “In the interest of both fairness to the American people and consistency in following the practice established four years ago, there should not be a vote on a Supreme Court nominee prior to the election. As I stated even before Justice Ginsburg’s death, should a nominee for the Supreme Court be brought to the Senate floor before the election, I will vote no.”
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, has already vowed that the Senate will vote on President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee by the end of the year, though he has not made clear whether that will happen before Election Day, Nov. 3.
Now that Mr. Trump has announced his selection of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the court’s open seat, what comes next? Here are some of the crucial questions to determine how it will play out.
What happens next? Judge Barrett will have to answer an elaborate questionnaire, which the Senate will examine. She’ll also begin calling and meeting with senators as they scrub her background and legal writings.
The 22 members of the Judiciary Committee, which is led by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a staunch Trump ally, will hold confirmation hearings for four consecutive days beginning Oct. 12. That is considerably faster than recent Supreme Court nominations, cutting the time to prepare for the hearings by about two-thirds.
After the hearings, the committee will vote on whether to recommend the nomination to the full Senate, a meeting Republicans have tentatively scheduled for Oct. 22. If that schedule holds, the full Senate would vote on whether to confirm Judge Barrett the final week of October, just a week before Election Day.
Because Republicans hold a 53 to 47 majority, Democrats would need four Republican senators to join them in opposition to sink Judge Barrett.
Two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, had said they opposed filling the seat until voters decide the presidency. Ms. Collins has stood by that view, warning that she will not vote to confirm Mr. Trump’s nominee before Election Day, period. Ms. Murkowski now appears more open to doing so, but as a vocal proponent of abortion rights, she is expected to look warily on Judge Barrett.
All 51 other Republicans so far appear to be content with the nominee, and given their eagerness to fill the vacancy with a conservative and the tight timetable, they are going to be hesitant to break with their party leaders.
Democrats eliminated the 60-vote threshold for most judicial nominees in 2013, frustrated by Republicans’ use of the filibuster to slow and impede President Barack Obama’s agenda. In turn, angered by resistance to the nomination of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch in 2017, Republicans abolished the limitation on Supreme Court nominees.
As a result, Mr. McConnell could bring the nomination to the Senate floor and approve it with a simple majority vote.
What effect will the election have on the vacancy? For many Republican senators up for re-election this year, the ideal situation might be to begin the confirmation process quickly, injecting it into the political bloodstream and energizing conservative voters, but waiting until after Election Day — when vulnerable incumbents no longer have to worry about being cast out by angry independent and liberal voters — to hold a confirmation vote.
What if Republicans lose the White House, the Senate or both? Could they still confirm Mr. Trump’s nominee after the election? Yes.
Congress typically reconvenes after Election Day for a lame-duck session, when lawmakers act on unfinished business before adjourning for the year. Since the newly elected members would not be seated until the new Congress convened in January, Republicans would remain in control of the Senate even if they had lost their majority.
Similarly, if he were to lose on Election Day, Mr. Trump would remain president until Joseph R. Biden Jr. assumed office in January.
A clear majority of voters believe the winner of the presidential election should decide who will fill the Supreme Court seat left open by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, according to a national poll conducted by The New York Times and Siena College, a sign of the political peril President Trump and Senate Republicans are courting by trying to rush through an appointment before the end of the campaign.
In a survey of likely voters taken in the week leading up to Mr. Trump’s nomination on Saturday of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the high court, 56 percent said they preferred to have the election act as a sort of referendum on the vacancy. Only 41 percent said they wanted Mr. Trump to appoint a justice before November.
More striking, the voters Mr. Trump and endangered Senate Republicans must reclaim to close the gap in the polls are even more opposed to a hasty pick: 62 percent of women, 63 percent of independents and 60 percent of college-educated white voters said they wanted the winner of the campaign to fill the seat.
The warning signs for Republicans are also stark on the issue of abortion, on which Judge Barrett, a fiercely conservative jurist, could offer a pivotal vote should she be confirmed: 60 percent of those surveyed believe abortion should be legal all or some of the time.
Voters prefer that the winner of the election choose the next Supreme Court justice, and trust Joe Biden over Donald Trump to do a better job in making the pick.
Based on a New York Times/Siena College poll of 950 likely voters from Sept. 22 to Sept. 24.
The poll suggests that Mr. Trump would reap little political benefit from a clash over abortion rights: 56 percent said they would be less likely to vote for Mr. Trump if his justice would help overturn Roe v. Wade, while just 24 percent said they would be more inclined to vote for him.
Beyond the coming battle over the court, the survey indicates that Mr. Trump remains an unpopular president who has not established a clear upper hand over Mr. Biden on any of the most important issues of the campaign. Voters are rejecting him by wide margins on his management of the coronavirus pandemic, and they express no particular confidence in his handling of public order. While he receives comparatively strong marks on the economy, a majority of voters also say he is at least partly to blame for the economic downturn.
Sara Gideon, the Democratic speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, is seeking to do the once unthinkable: unseat the four-term Senator Susan Collins, one of the last surviving moderate Republicans, and the only Republican from New England, in the U.S. Senate.
Not Trumpian enough for many Republicans, too Republican for most Democrats, the once-popular Ms. Collins is unexpectedly vulnerable in this strangest of election years.
Her challenger is a smooth campaigner, fluent and assured about issues like Medicaid expansion, the environment and health care, and skilled in talking about how they affect Mainers. But the country’s partisan divisions are infecting the state, and the local contest is part of a much wider national picture. The race will turn much less on Ms. Gideon’s record, or even her political positions, than on what Maine voters think about Senator Collins. Has she sold her soul to President Trump’s Republican Party?
And so Ms. Gideon is trying to present herself not just as an effective state politician who is ready for the national stage, but also as the obvious choice for voters alarmed at the president — and, by extension, at Ms. Collins.
“Gideon is charismatic and campaigns well and has a good rapport with crowds,” said Mark Brewer, a professor of political science at the University of Maine. “But the race isn’t primarily about Sara Gideon — it’s much more about Susan Collins.” And of course it is also about Mr. Trump, whose shadowy presence looms in the air at all times, in Maine as across the country.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, has compiled an almost uniformly conservative voting record in cases touching on abortion, gun rights, discrimination and immigration. If she is confirmed, she would move the court slightly but firmly to the right, making compromise less likely and putting at risk the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade.
Judge Barrett’s judicial opinions, based on a substantial sample of the hundreds of cases that she has considered in her three years on the federal appeals court in Chicago, are marked by care, clarity and a commitment to the interpretive methods used by Justice Antonin Scalia, the giant of conservative jurisprudence for whom she worked as a law clerk from 1998 to 1999.
But while Justice Scalia’s methods occasionally drove him to liberal results, notably in cases on flag burning and the role of juries in criminal cases, Judge Barrett could be a different sort of justice.
“There may be fewer surprises from someone like her than there were from Justice Scalia,” said Brian T. Fitzpatrick, a former law clerk to the justice and a law professor at Vanderbilt University. “She is sympathetic to Justice Scalia’s methods, but I don’t get the sense that she is going to be a philosophical leader on how those methods should be executed.”
One area in which almost no one expects surprises is abortion. Mr. Trump has vowed to appoint justices ready to overrule Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. Groups opposing abortion have championed Judge Barrett’s nomination. And her academic and judicial writings have been skeptical of broad interpretations of abortion rights.
Judge Barrett will doubtless tell senators that the Roe decision is a settled precedent, as she did when Mr. Trump nominated her to the appeals court in 2017. And the Supreme Court may not hear a direct challenge to Roe anytime soon, preferring instead to consider cases that could chip away at abortion rights.
But when the day comes, many of Judge Barrett’s supporters are convinced that she will not flinch. Justice Scalia wrote that the Constitution has nothing to say about abortion and that states should be allowed to decide the question for themselves. There is no reason to believe Judge Barrett disagrees.
After President Trump announced on Saturday that he had selected Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee, Republicans promised to fast-track her nomination. Read the latest.
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News – 2020 Election Live Updates: Biden Urges G.O.P. Not to Rush Supreme Court Appointment, Calling It ‘Abuse of Power’