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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 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP leaders skip Trump send-off in favor of church with Biden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in July. Photo: Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration, congressional sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.

55 mins ago - World

World leaders react to "new dawn in America" under Biden administration

President Biden reacts delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

World leaders have pledged to work with President Biden on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, with many praising his move to begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: Several leaders noted the swift shift from former President Trump's "America First" policy to Biden's action to re-engage with the world and rebuild alliances.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Wednesday night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed his first executive orders into law from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening after walking in a brief inaugural parade to the White House with first lady Jill Biden and members of their family. He was inaugurated with Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Many of Biden's day one actions immediately reverse key Trump administration policies, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, launching a racial equity initiative and reversing the Muslim travel ban.