Missouri’s Republican senators wasted no time backing President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the seat left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg over the weekend.
Shortly after Trump announced U.S. Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his pick to replace the liberal icon, Sens. Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley released statements singing the praises of a woman who could cement a 6-3 conservative court majority that would shape American law for decades to come.
Blunt, the state’s senior senator, said he was “proud to support (Barrett’s) confirmation to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals” and looked forward “to supporting her confirmation to the Supreme Court.”
He also vouched for Barrett’s commitment to interpreting laws and the Constitution “as they are written,” a key selling point for conservatives who think judges should apply laws and the Constitution based on their authors’ original intent rather than what they might mean in the context of modern society.
Hawley, the junior senator, also applauded the choice as a big win for religious conservatives.
“For years we’ve been told to take a back seat in (Supreme Court) nominations, but not any longer,” Hawley wrote in a tweet.
“(Trump) has chosen a nominee in (Barrett) who religious conservatives can call one of their own."
Indeed, Barrett is a devout Catholic whose skepticism of broad protections for abortion rights has religious conservatives hoping she could help overturn 1973’s Roe v. Wade, which found a constitutional right to the procedure. Such a move would likely allow each state to make its own rules, with those like Missouri outlawing it entirely.
Barrett also signed onto a letter to Catholic bishops in 2015 affirming the “teachings of the Church as truth,” including the “value of human life from conception to natural death” and marriage-family values “founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman.”
Barrett is also expected to be a staunch defender of Second Amendment rights.
She has also been skeptical of how the court upheld President Obama's Affordable Care Act in 2012.
The act has since helped millions of people get health insurance by creating online marketplaces and paying more than 30 states to allow more people onto their Medicaid rolls, a group Missouri is set to join next year.
But challenges from conservatives have continued, and the court is set to hear another one later this year.
The timeline for Barrett’s confirmation is not entirely clear at this point.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, has said his committee plans to send the matter to the full chamber by Oct. 22, so it could happen before the Nov. 3 election.
That timeline has outraged Democrats, who say the seat should be filled by the winner of the upcoming election, just as Republicans said when Democrats tried to replace conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.
But Republicans like Blunt have said the difference now is that the White House and the Senate are both controlled by the Republicans, whereas in 2016 Obama was a Democrat working with a Republican Senate.
In an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, Blunt said he expects a vote next month.
“If for some reason it's not done, we'll do it after Election Day,” he said. “But I think we're likely to get this done sometime in the month of October.”
USA Today contributed to this report.
Austin Huguelet is the News-Leader's politics reporter. Got something he should know? Have a question? Call him at 417-403-8096 or email him at email@example.com. You can also support local journalism atNews-Leader.com/subscribe.