MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - President Trump has yet to announce his pick to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but a federal judge who graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis has emerged as one of the leading contenders.
Amy Coney Barrett, who graduated from Rhodes in 1994, is currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Trump nominated Barrett for that position in 2017.
Barrett faced tough questioning and criticism from Democrats when she appeared before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that year for her confirmation hearing, especially over whether her Catholic faith would influence her decisions on social issues like abortion.
“It’s never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge’s personal convictions whether they derive from faith or anywhere else on the law,” Barrett said.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, asked Barrett directly if she thought Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, was decided correctly.
“Well, Senator, I’m sorry. I feel like I can’t as a nominee offer an opinion,” Barrett said. “As I said before, on the rightness or wrongness of any precedent because I don’t want to give the impression that I treat some precedents as more binding or more valuable than others.”
Barrett’s responses did not satisfy Democrats.
“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, the ranking member of the judiciary committee said.
Despite the tough questioning, the Senate confirmed Barrett as a federal judge, mostly along party lines.
But her biggest test may be to come.
WMC Political Analyst Michael Nelson says Barrett stands a good chance of becoming President Trump’s nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.
“She has already been sort of vetted, so to speak. Her background has been gone into. She has met with President Trump. She’s almost, I think, teed up to be the logical nominee,” Nelson said.
Barrett was on the shortlist the last time a Supreme Court became vacant in 2018.
That’s when WMC sat down with her former Rhodes College roommate, Brooke Ward.
Ward says she believes Barrett would serve the country well, but she worried about a tough confirmation fight.
“The one thing I do feel for her in all of this is what it will put her family through and put her through personally to have to go through another set of confirmation hearings,” Ward said.
If nominated and confirmed, Barrett, a wife and mother of seven, would be the second Rhodes College graduate to sit on the nation’s highest court after Justice Abe Fortas in the 1960′s.