Report: Trump intends to pick Barrett for U.S. Supreme Court over Larsen

President Donald Trump intends to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the U.S. Supreme Court over Judge Joan Larsen of Michigan and four other finalists, according to Bloomberg News.

Trump is expected to announce Saturday at the White House that he’s picked Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose death Sept. 18 set off a debate over whether and and Senate should fill the vacancy so close to the November presidential election. 

This image provided by Rachel Malehorn shows Judge Amy Coney Barrett in Milwaukee, on Aug. 24, 2018.

When asked Friday evening by reporters about his reported selection of Barrett, Trump said, ““I haven’t said it was her, but she is outstanding.”

The nomination presents Trump with his third opportunity to reshape the Supreme Court for generations with a more conservative tilt after previously appointing Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Trump indicated earlier this week that Larsen — whom he appointed to the federal bench in 2017 — was on his list of five he was considering for the high court. Larsen was also among the judges whom Trump looked at to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Another top contender for Ginsburg’s seat was Judge Barbara Lagoa of the 11th Circuit U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

Earlier this week, Republicans said they secured the 51 votes they will need to ensure Trump’s nominee gets a confirmation vote in the Senate this year, after Michigan native Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, announced his support.

Senate Democrats have strongly opposed the GOP plan to move ahead with a vote on Trump’s nominee before the election in a chamber where Republicans hold a slim majority. 

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, said the GOP is trying to “rush a nominee through what should be a deliberative process,” and that the selection should wait until after Inauguration Day next year. 

“Jamming the Supreme Court nomination through now will without question further divide our country and disregard the fact that the American people are now voting, or soon will be in many states,” Peters said Tuesday on the Senate floor.

“American should have a voice in selecting who will choose the next nominee — a nominee who, if confirmed, will serve for a lifetime.”

Michigan Republican Party Chair Laura Cox said Friday there’s enthusiasm and the desire among Trump supporters to fill Ginsburg’s seat.

“I’ve been touring around the state for the past two weeks, and people are excited,” Cox told reporters on a call. “There’s been chants at rallies that I’ve been to. People understand it’s the president’s obligation, and they support his choice.”

Both Larsen and Michigan Judge Raymond Kethledge, who also serves on the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, remain on Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees. 

Former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Young has also appeared on Trump’s high court list. Young told The Detroit News last week that he was “too old and too male” to be considered for Ginsburg’s seat. 

Judge Joan Larsen in a 2015 file photo

Trump tapped Larsen, 51, for the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in 2017 when she served on the Michigan Supreme Court.

She was confirmed by the Senate in a bipartisan vote of 60-38 with the support of Michigan U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Peters, both Democrats.

Larsen once clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia, is a member of the conservative Federalist Society and taught at the University of Michigan Law School.

She had volunteered for Joe Biden’s unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1987 in Iowa, her home state, according to the questionnaire that she completed for the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

She had described her role in the campaign in the summer of 1987 as “minor,” saying she recalled doing “low-level volunteer” work such as stuffing envelopes and making phone calls for Biden, then a Delaware senator and now the Democratic presidential nominee running against Trump.

Larsen also volunteered in 1996 for a Republican presidential candidate, Bob Dole, for whom she edited or drafted “white papers/position papers from facts supplied by the campaign,” according to her questionnaire.

mburke@detroitnews.com