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Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Photo: Matt Cashore/Notre Dame University via Reuters

President Trump is preparing to nominate federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, a favorite of both the social conservative base and Republican elected officials, to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Republican sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Barrett would push the already conservative court further and harder to the right, for decades to come, on the most important issues in American politics — from abortion to the limits of presidential power. If confirmed, she would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the high court.

Trump's decision has been closely held, and as with any presidential decision subject to last minute change.

  • But the machinery around the president is preparing for a Barrett “rollout” after he announces his pick, scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m.

Barrett is widely known and well-liked by many in the White House and the Senate, and is viewed as both the easiest to confirm and biggest lightning rod for the right, given her controversial stance on abortion and deeply conservative religious beliefs.

  • Once it was clear earlier this week that McConnell had the votes regardless of the pick, "the cake was baked," one Senate aide involved in the process told Axios.
  • And because she's already been vetted, her nomination can move quickly.

Axios reported back in March 2019 that Trump had his eye on Barrett, telling confidants he was “saving her for Ginsburg” when her name came up during deliberations over replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired.

Behind the scenes: The way Barrett got on Trump’s Supreme Court list was simple. In late 2017, former White House counsel Don McGahn and conservative movement leader Leonard Leo walked into the Oval Office and presented Trump with five additional judges to supplement his 2016 list of potential Supreme Court picks.

  • Those new names were: Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Britt Grant, Patrick Wyrick and Kevin Newsom.
  • That list, which was handwritten on a notecard, will likely comprise two-thirds of the justices Trump appointed in his first term.

Go deeper

Jan 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Mark Meadows' new gig

Mark Meadows at a Make America Great Again rally in October. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is joining the Conservative Partnership Institute, a group run by former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint that operates as a "networking hub" for conservatives, sources familiar with his plans tell Axios.

Between the lines: Meadows, who is still in frequent contact with former President Trump and has been advising him ahead of his impeachment trial, will now operate behind the scenes to help create more members like Jim Jordan, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley — conservative firebrands with strong networks and staffs.

2 hours ago - World

U.S. drone strike victims' families in Afghanistan seek compensation

A relative of Ezmarai Ahmadi, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike, looks at the wreckage of a vehicle that was damaged in the strike in the Kwaja Burga neighbourhood of Kabul on Saturday. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi AFP via Getty Images

Relatives of 10 Afghans killed by a U.S. drone strike in Kabul last month said Saturday they want to see punishment and compensation over the deaths.

Driving the news: The relatives said it's "good news" that the U.S. had "officially admitted" that "they had attacked innocents" in the Aug. 29 strike that killed Zamarai Ahmadi, an aid worker with a U.S.-based group, and nine family members, but they still need "justice," per AFP.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
6 hours ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.