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Donald Trump says Supreme Court pick Amy Coney Barrett is a pure constitutionalist

Donald Trump said Sunday he chose to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court because he wanted a constitutional textualist to fill the spot left vacant by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

'Mostly, I'm looking for somebody that can interpret the Constitution as written,' Trump told 'Fox & Friends' co-host Pete Hegseth during an interview that aired early Sunday morning.

'We say it all the time and she is very strong on that,' the president continued of his pick. 'And it'll be very interesting.'

He added that having Barrett on the Supreme Court would be 'really thrilling.'

'I hope it goes smoothly,' Trump said. 'Perhaps it will. Perhaps it won't.'

He added: 'I think it's going to be very hard to dispute her qualifications or anything about her.'

Trump announced Saturday from the Rose Garden that he was nominating the 48-year-old federal judge to fill the most liberal justice's seat, which became open last Friday after Ginsburg died due to complications from pancreatic cancer. 

Donald Trump said Sunday that he chose Amy Coney Barrett as his third Supreme Court pick because he wanted a pure constitutionalist as the president participated in his first interview post-nomination with Fox & Friends co-host Pete Hegseth (right)

'Mostly, I'm looking for somebody that can interpret the Constitution as written,' the president said in a pre-recorded interview outside the White House that aired early Sunday morning

President Trump officially nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett, 48, to the Supreme Court on Saturday at a White House event

He hopes the nomination will provide a needed boost to his reelection effort as he continues to slip in polls against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

'I think she's going to make a lot of people very proud,' Trump told Hegseth in a pre-recorded interview at the White House – the first following his nomination of Barrett.

He also said when explaining his decision making process that there was a 'tremendous clamoring' from the public to choose Barrett. Trump also pointed to the fact that he wanted to replace Ginsburg with a woman after he already nominated two other male judges during his presidential tenure.

'So we have a list of about 45 people… in conjunction with a lot of other people that are very talented, conservative. The very talented people, and it was definitely a time for a woman,' Trump said.

'And so I had, I broken down into five women. And this is a person who is just outstanding, a great student, a great scholar,' he lavished praise on his selection.

Barrett, a judge on the Chicago-based 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals and a devout Roman Catholic, vowed she would 'apply the law as written' as she formally accepted Trump's nomination during brief remarks outside the White House Saturday.

The mother of seven has been hailed by religious conservatives and others on the right as an ideological heir to conservative stalwart Antonin Scalia, the late Supreme Court justice for whom she clerked.

She said Saturday she was 'truly humbled' by the nomination and quickly aligned herself with Scalia's conservative approach to the law, saying his 'judicial philosophy is mine, too.' 

Trump and first lady Melania pose for pictures with Barrett, her husband Jesse and their seven children, five biological and two adopted from Haiti

Barrett, who has been a judge since 2017 when Trump nominated her to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, made brief acceptance remarks where she vowed to 'apply the law as written'

'I was lucky enough to clerk for Justice Scalia. And given his incalculable influence on my life, I am very moved to have members of the Scalia family here today, including his dear wife, Maureen. I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate,' Barrett said. 

'His judicial philosophy is mine, too. A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold,' she added.

Her praise for Scalia will surely rally conservatives and anger liberals as the Senate prepares for a fierce election year confirmation battle. 

Scalia was nominated in 1986 under President Ronald Reagan and was the Supreme Court's most influential conservative. 

He had been a strong opponent of gay rights, affirmative action and abortion rights. He believed that the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, which protects a women's right to have an abortion, was wrongly decided. 

Barrett had been a leading contender for the nomination, having been considered for the seat now occupied by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was confirmed in 2018 and the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge had met with Trump this week. 

Scalia is pictured in 2012 with his wife, Maureen. Maureen was in the audience watching as Barrett was nominated to the Supreme Court

For Trump, whose 2016 victory hinged in large part on reluctant support from white evangelicals on the promise of filling Scalia's seat with a conservative, the latest nomination in some ways brings his first term full circle. 

'Today it is my honor to nominate one of our nation's most brilliant and gifted legal minds to the Supreme Court,' Trump said, making his nomination official as Barrett stood to his side. 'She is a woman of unparalleled  achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution: Judge Amy Coney Barrett.'  

Barrett called the ceremony a 'rather overwhelming occasion' and a 'momentous decision' for a president.

'If the Senate does me the honor of confirming me, I pledge to discharge the responsibilities to the very best of my ability: I love the United States and I love the United States Constitution.' 

'I am truly humbled by the prospect of serving on the Supreme Court,' she added. 

Barrett, at one point, spoke directly to the American people: 'The president has nominated me to serve on the United States Supreme Court and that institution belongs to all of us.' 

''I would assume this role to serve you,' she pledged. 

Barrett acknowledged the woman whose space on the court she was filling, Ruth Bader Ginsberg calling her 'a woman of enormous talent and consequence,' although she is the ideological opposite of Ginsburg, who sat on the bench for 27 years. 

'Should I be confirmed, I will be mindful of who came before me. She not only broke glass ceilings, she smashed them, and for that she has won the admiration of women across the country,' Barrett said of Ginsburg.

'Particularly poignant to me was her long and deep friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia, my own mentor. Justices Scalia and Ginsburg disagreed fiercely in print without rancor in person,' Barrett noted.

Barrett acknowledged the woman whose space on the court she was filling, Ruth Bader Ginsberg calling her 'a woman of enormous talent and consequence,' although she is the ideological opposite of Ginsburg

'Their ability to maintain a warm and rich friendship despite their differences even inspired an opera. These two great Americans demonstrated that arguments, even about matters of great consequence, need not destroy affection.' 

Barrett entered the Rose Garden in lock step with the president, with her seven children and husband and first lady Melania Trump not far behind. 

'This should be a straightforward and prompt confirmation. It should be very easy,' Trump said with a laugh, adding, 'Good luck. It will be very quick ... We said that the last time, didn't we?' a reference to the 2018 Kavanaugh fight.   

'I further urge all members of the other side of the aisle to provide Judge Barrett with the respectful and dignified hearing that she deserves, and frankly, that our county deserves,' Trump said. 

Trump also spoke of the Scalia connection in his Rose Garden speech remarking how a Notre Dame professor had recommended Barrett to the late justice as a law clerk writing, 'Amy Coney is the best student I ever had.' 

Maureen Scalia, Scalia's widow, was in the audience Saturday, as was Trump's Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, the late justice's son. 'Very good genes in the family, I will say,' Trump remarked.  

Judge Amy Coney Barrett (right) walks through the Colonnade with President Donald Trump (left) and first lady Melania Trump (center) 

President Donald Trump (left) and first lady Melania Trump (center) walk the Colonnade in advance of nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett (right) to the Supreme Court Saturday 

President Donald Trump (left) walked out in lockstep with Judge Amy Coney Barrett (right) to the Rose Garden ceremony where she was officially nominated to the Supreme Court on Saturday 

Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks to a crowd in the White House Rose Garden Saturday after being nominated to the Supreme Court 

Amy Coney Barrett's children sat front row at the ceremony alongside first lady Melania Trump (left) 

A number of U.S. senators and administration officials were in the White House audience, who didn't practice social distance and with many attendees choosing not to wear masks amid the coronavirus pandemic 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died September 18, giving President Donald Trump an opportunity to fill a third Supreme Court seat during his first term 

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is captured leaving her home in South Bend, Indiana Saturday ahead of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court announcement. Her husband Jesse Barrett, three sons and one of her daughters were in tow

Judge Amy Coney Barrett holds the hand of her daughter Juliet as son John Peter trails behind. Barrett is a mom of seven  

Amy Coney Barrett brought along three of her daughters to her September 2017 confirmation hearings in September 2017  

He asked Democrats and the media not to engage in 'personal or partisan attacks' of his new nominee.  

'The stakes for our country are incredibly high,' Trump said. 'Rulings that the Supreme Court will issue in the coming years will decide the survival of our Second Amendment, our religious liberty, our public safety and so much more.'  

He brought up his own campaign's theme of 'law and order' during his brief speech.

'Law and order is the foundation of the American system of justice,' Trump said. 'I am supremely confident that Judge Barrett will issue rulings based solely on the fair reading of the law.' 

The president played up Barrett's credentials as a working mom. 

'If confirmed Justice Barrett will make history as the first mother of school-age children to ever serve on the Supreme Court,' Trump said to cheers and applause. 

Speaking now to her seven children, the president added, 'Thank you for sharing your incredible mom with our country.' 

'The president has asked me to be the ninth justice, and as it happens, I'm used to being in a group of nine - my family,' Barrett remarked in the Rose Garden.  

The 48-year-old New Orleans native who attended Rhodes College and received her law degree from Notre Dame law school, where she later taught. She lives in South Bend, Indiana.   

Former White House official Kellyanne Conway (right) speaks to Attorney General Bill Barr (left) after President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court 

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia (right), the son of the late Justice Antonin Scalia who Amy Comey Barrett clerked for is seen giving fist bumps at the White House nominating ceremony Saturday followed by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (center) 

If her nomination is successful, it will give the Supreme Court a hard jerk to the right, as she'll be replacing the court's most liberal member, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died September 18. 

Both Barrett and Trump paid homage to Ginsburg during their remarks. 

Trump referred to the liberal Ginsburg as a 'true American legend,' a 'legal giant' and a 'pioneer for women.'  

Liberals fear that Barrett could chip away the ability for women to get a legal abortion, as the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade revolved around a right to privacy, which isn't explicitly outlined in the U.S. Constitution.   

Barrett would also be replacing a Jewish member of the court with a devout Catholic, bringing the number of Catholics on the bench to six. 

Overall, there are nine Supreme Court justices. 

Barrett's faith will likely play a role in her forthcoming Judiciary Committee hearings. 

She's a member of the People of Praise, a small Catholic group that teaches husbands are the heads of the family. 

The group was inaccurately reported to be the inspiration for Margaret Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale,' which is now a popular television show because the term 'handmaid' was used to describe a member's personal adviser, if that adviser was female. 

Members of the group also swear a loyalty oath, which some legal scholars have found problematic because they raise questions about a judge's impartiality and independence. 

During her 2017 confirmation hearings for a seat on the Chicago-based 7th Circuit, Barrett testified that while she was a devout Catholic, those views wouldn't bleed into her decisions on the bench. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, famously told Barrett, 'The dogma lives loudly within you.' 

Conservatives including Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican who has since retired from the Senate, knocked Democrats for deploying a 'religious test.' 

The New York Times didn't report her membership in People of Praise until after the hearings concluded, but before the vote. 

Democrats will likely bring it up during the forthcoming hearings.  

Earlier Saturday, Barrett was spotted leaving her home in South Bend, Indiana with her children.   

Among Barrett's children she has five biological and two who were adopted from Haiti. She brought her eldest three daughters Emma, Vivian and Tess with her when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017. 

Vivian and Tess as the same age, as Vivian is one of the children adopted from Haiti. 

Barrett also talked about how her youngest son, Benjamin, has special needs. 

Republicans have the votes in the Senate to confirm Barrett to the Supreme Court before the November 3 presidential election. 

While Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who's facing a tough re-election fight, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski both said they didn't think the Senate should vote on Trump's nominee before the election, several other swing votes indicated they would - giving the president the numbers he needs. 

Democrats have called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a hypocrite because he refused to hold a Senate floor vote on President Barack Obama's final Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, who was picked to fill Scalia's seat in March 2016. 

McConnell said it was too close to the 2016 presidential election and the American people should get the opportunity to weigh in.  

This was echoed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham who said he wouldn't push through a nominee in the months leading up to the 2020 presidential election, suggesting a new precedent had been set. 

Graham, however, reversed course, pointing to the brutal 2018 battle to get Kavanaugh on the court. 

Kavanaugh was accused by Christine Blasey Ford of sexually assaulting her when they were teens. 

Graham fiercely defended Kavanaugh during the hearings. 

Kavanaugh still made it on the Supreme Court with a 50 to 48 vote.  

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