Multiple sources say that in conversations about replacing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy last year, President Trump said he was “saving” conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when she retires or dies, according to Axios.
“I’m saving her for Ginsburg,” Trump allegedly said.
This ghoulish comment was heard by at least three people. Trump reportedly used the line a number of times in different situations, including a conversation with an advisor days before he announced Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Barrett is a conservative who is highly regarded on the right. Some even wanted her over Kavanaugh to replace Kennedy. She’s a Catholic who is anti-choice, leading some to believe she’d be willing to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Barrett may not have been nominated to replace Kennedy in part over concerns that GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins wouldn’t vote to support an explicitly anti-abortion nominee. Some advisors apparently argued that the two women would eventually “do the right thing” and vote for Barrett regardless, as they ended up doing with Kavanaugh. But Trump, who reportedly refers to Collins and Murkowski as simply “the women,” apparently didn’t want to risk it.
There’s no guarantee that Barrett will actually end up being the choice to replace Ginsburg, even if she does leave the bench while Trump is still in office.
“The Supreme Court judicial selection process with the president is a very fluid one,” a source told Axios. “[Trump] floats in and out of these discussions over a period of time.”
Ginsburg’s departure has been speculated for years—she’s 86 years old and has faced three bouts of cancer. Earlier this year, in the midst of cancer treatment, she missed oral arguments for the first time in her lengthy career, sparking concern about her ability to continue working. It was reported at that time that the Trump administration was making a short list of candidates to replace her. But things seem to have returned to normal now, with Ginsburg on the bench, dispensing decisions as usual.