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Religious US Supreme Court front runner is a darling of conservatives

This article is more than 12 months old

WASHINGTON: Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the leading contender for the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg's US Supreme Court seat, is a darling of conservatives for her religious views, but detractors warn her appointment would shift the nation's top court firmly to the right.

In 2018, she was on the shortlist presented by President Donald Trump for a seat freed up by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, a position ultimately filled by Justice Brett Kavanaugh after a ferocious confirmation battle.

At just 48, her lifetime appointment to the bench would ensure a strong conservative presence on the panel for decades, but her background - the antithesis of "RBG", the champion of women's rights who died last week - is a new flashpoint in an already polarised country.

A practising Catholic and the mother of seven, including two adopted from Haiti and a young son with Down syndrome, Ms Barrett is opposed to abortion, one of the key issues dominating the cultural divide in the US.

At the federal appeals court in Chicago, she adopted positions backing gun rights and opposing migrants and women seeking abortions, as well as going against the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, the healthcare reform pushed through by the former president.

"Amy Coney Barrett meets Mr Trump's two litmus tests for federal judges," said Mr Daniel Goldberg, director of the progressive lobby group Alliance for Justice. "A willingness to overturn the Affordable Care Act and to overturn Roe v Wade." The latter is the landmark legislation that legalised abortion in the US.

On the other side, conservatives hail a woman they consider "brilliant" and "impressive". - AFP