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Photo: Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Judge Amy Coney Barrett — expected to be named by President Trump today to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court, and an edge on issues from abortion to the limits of presidential power.

The big picture: Republicans love the federal appeals court judge's age — she is only 48 — and her record as a steadfast social conservative.

Where she stands: In her academic writings, public appearances and decisions as a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (based in Chicago; she lives in Indiana), Barrett has staked out conservative positions on a host of huge issues:

  • Health care: She wrote in 2017 that Chief Justice John Roberts betrayed the tenets of conservative legal analysis when he upheld the Affordable Care Act. The law will be back before the court in November.
  • Guns: She said in a dissenting opinion in 2019 that she would have struck down the federal law that bars all felons, including non-violent felons, from owning guns.
  • Immigration: In another dissenting opinion, Barrett voted to let the Trump administration implement rules making it harder for immigrants to get green cards if they’re likely to rely on public programs like Medicaid or food stamps.

Abortion rights are a massive issue in any Supreme Court confirmation. While Barrett has not ruled directly on abortion, abortion-rights opponents have plenty of good reasons to believe she’s on their side:

  • She said all the things nominees always say about honoring precedent during her 7th Circuit confirmation hearings in 2017, and will surely do so again in her Supreme Court confirmation.
  • Barrett, a devout Catholic, has signed public letters describing the “value of human life from conception to natural death” and sharply criticizing the way the Obama administration handled the ACA's contraception mandate.
  • She cast procedural votes on the 7th Circuit that suggested she might have upheld abortion laws that court ultimately struck down.

The bottom line: Barrett's confirmation will quickly and aggressively move the court to the right.

Go deeper

Democrats fret about Garland for attorney general

Judge Merrick Garland. Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

If Joe Biden picks Merrick Garland to be his attorney general, he could cost his party control of one of the most important judicial appointments in America — and many Democrats do not want the president-elect to take that chance.

How it works: Biden still hasn't named his choice to lead the Justice Department, and if he taps Garland, it would open up his seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. If Democrats don’t win both Georgia Senate runoff seats next month, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would almost surely prevent the president-elect from filling it.

Dec 17, 2020 - Sports

Knives out for the NCAA

The U.S. Supreme Court Building. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The NCAA's strict limits on college athletes' compensation get less tenable every day.

Driving the news: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case challenging the NCAA's ban on certain education-related benefits, like laptops and scholarships for graduate school.

52 mins ago - World

Biden freezes U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official tells Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.