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Trump May Announce Amy Coney Barrett As His Nominee To Supreme Court, Source Tells

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Republicans expect President Trump to announce he is nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That's according to a source knowledgeable with the process. The White House is not commenting, but President Trump is planning an event at the White House tomorrow to officially unveil his pick. He spoke to reporters a short time after returning to Washington from a campaign trip.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I'll be announcing it tomorrow, the decision. And I've made it in my own mind, yes. And I'll be announcing the decision tomorrow. It's very exciting.

CORNISH: NPR's legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg joins us now to discuss the presumptive pick. And, Nina, to start, Judge Barrett was the front-runner in this process. Why is she the one conservatives rallied around?

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: She's been on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals for three years. She's a beloved professor at Notre Dame Law School for 15 years - still teaches there. And social conservatives, anti-abortion conservatives, anti-gay-rights conservatives - they have been big fans of Amy Coney Barrett, and the president has too. And remember. He campaigned promising that he would name people to the Supreme Court who he said would overturn Roe v. Wade. And Coney Barrett is generally considered hostile to abortion rights and to Obamacare. At her confirmation hearing three years ago, she said that as an appeals court judge, she would be bound to follow the court's abortion decisions. But if confirmed, she wouldn't be bound by Roe v. Wade. She would no longer be a lower court judge. And I think that one could plausibly argue that given what she has said in the past about Roe, she could very well be a vote to overturn Roe. And it would be overruled. She's also been critical of Chief Justice John Roberts' opinion upholding Obamacare. And if confirmed to the court - she is 48 now. She would be the youngest justice on the Supreme Court and would likely serve for decades to come.

CORNISH: She was confirmed to her current position on the circuit court in Chicago just a few years ago. What does that mean for the Senate process?

TOTENBERG: Well, she has quite a lengthy record both in her academic writings and in her decisions. And those will all be examined. But as you know, Audie, this is going to be a very rushed process unlike anything we've seen in recent years. And for the Democrats, I suspect that they're going to focus less on abortion rights and more on her views on Obamacare because her views as expressed and the statement she's made would seem to suggest that she very much disagrees with Chief Justice Roberts' opinion in the Obamacare case and that that too could be overturned. And if she's confirmed, of course, she may well be sitting on the Supreme Court when the court hears the third challenge to Obamacare in a week after the election.

CORNISH: If confirmed, how would Barry change the court?

TOTENBERG: Well, I think probably any Trump nominee would dramatically change the court because it would be closely divided, as it was until now. In most cases, Chief Justice Roberts votes with the conservatives in the closely contested cases but not all of them. There have been a few in which he notably has voted otherwise. And instead, we would have a court that's 6-to-3. They could - conservatives could afford to lose the Roberts vote, for example.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Nina Totenberg.

Thank you so much.

TOTENBERG: Thank you, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.