Sources familiar with his thinking tell The Inquizitor that President Donald J. Trump is increasingly open to the idea of nominating a moderate jurist to the United States Supreme Court, in the event that Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg agrees to retire ahead of the federal elections later this year.
Earlier this week several of Ginsberg’s former law clerks expressed that, were she to leave the Court during Trump’s presidency, that her preferred successor would be the centrist Republican, Diane Humetewa. Humetewa, 55, is a federal District Court Judge who formerly served as a US Attorney for Arizona, nominated to those posts by Presidents George W. Bush and Barak Obama, and twice confirmed by the Senate in overwhelmingly bipartisan votes.
“This isn’t about the seat on the Court as much as it’s about President Trump wanting to give Justice Ginsburg the opportunity to enjoy a comfortable retirement in her golden years, which we all know she deserves,” the source explains. “Donald sees what a tough situation she is in and genuinely wants to be a nice guy if there’s a way he can be a nice guy.”
“In the same way that the world watched Pope John Paul II serve dutifully while we all should have been more merciful in our demands of him, the President thinks that America may be demanding too much service from Justice Ginsburg,” he adds. “She carries a very heavy burden, and we all want what is best for her.”
But the source warns that, if a seat becomes vacant on the Court after the election during his second term, his nominee will be a considerably more conservative jurist. He explains that the President is inclined to support a consensus nominee if he has to fill the seat before the election, largely because he knows Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is sure to filibuster even center-right candidates like Brett Kavanaugh.
The President is also inclined to nominate a woman, but doesn’t want to instigate a national debate about abortion that would only hand Schumer a divisive issue around which to mobilize Democrat voters. That means that Judge Amy Coney Barrett is an unlikely nominee if the vacancy must be filled before the election. Coney Barrett is a far more likely nominee if the vacancy happens after the election.
In Washington’s political circles, Humetewa is widely seen as a uniquely situated consensus nominee whom Schumer would be unable to filibuster. When Obama nominated her to the federal bench in 2014, she secured Senate confirmation in a vote of 96-to-0. When Bush nominated her to serve as United States Attorney, she came highly recommended by both Senators John McCain and John Kyl.
Humetewa has a compelling personal narrative. She started working at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1986 as domestic violence victims’ advocate in the federal criminal justice system before attending the Sandra Day O’Connor Law School at Arizona State University. She rejoined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1996 as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. She later served as counsel for Senator McCain, and was one his pallbearers at his 2018 funeral.
At 48, Barrett is a young conservative firebrand and a devout Roman Catholic who has been widely heralded by the pro-life movement as a potential nominee to the Court. She was nominated by President Donald Trump to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, where she has served since November 2017.
She graduated from the University of Notre Dame before serving as a law clerk to Judge Laurence Silberman of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court.
From 1999 to 2002, she practiced law at Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin in Washington, D.C, before returning to her alma mater as a Professor of Law. She teaches federal courts, constitutional law, and statutory interpretation. Barrett has published extensively on constitutional law, originalism, and stare decisis.
During Barrett’s hearing, Senator Dianne Feinstein questioned Barrett about whether her Catholic faith would influence her decision-making on the court. Feinstein, concerned about whether Barrett would uphold Roe v. Wade, followed Barrett’s response by stating “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that is a concern”.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on a party-line basis of 11–9 to recommend Barrett and report her nomination to the full Senate, which invoked cloture by a vote of 54–42. The Senate confirmed her with a vote of 55–43.