Former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, now an NBC News legal analyst, described Judge Amy Coney Barrett as a “brilliant” and “lovely person” and said that he thought her confirmation process would “have a lot of support” if she had been nominated in 2021.
President Donald Trump introduced Barrett on the White House lawn Saturday as his pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. While it appears enough Republican votes reside in the Senate to confirm, Democrats have strongly resisted the confirmation process because of its proximity to the election, as well as the fact that Republicans denied a hearing to Merrick Garland in 2016 under similar circumstances.
“Well, there’s a lot of experience,” Katyal said on Monday morning’s “The Today Show” on NBC News. “At the same time, I think, you know, it’s not even been 10 days since we lost one of the biggest giants to have ever been in the law, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and there are a lot of major issues hanging over at the Supreme Court, from the Affordable Care Act and coverage of pre-existing conditions to the future of Roe versus Wade.”
Katyal went on to praise Barrett as a person while re-stating Democrats’ objections to the timing of her nomination.
“I think there are a lot of questions about her. I mean, very much, I think everyone should agree with President Trump that she deserves a respectful and dignified hearing, and I think you’ll hear many Democrats acknowledge she’s a brilliant person, she’s a lovely person, and the question is if she were nominated in 2021, I think that there would be a lot of support for a vote and confirmation hearings and orderly process,” he said.
“But what you’ll hear Democrats say is because of this rush to confirm, something that’s really never happened in our history, they’re much more skeptical,” said the former Obama official, who went on to stress the difference between “replacing one conservative jurist for another” — as was the case with Justice Neil Gorsuch filling the place of the late Justice Antonin Scalia — and the circumstances of the current nomination.
“This is one in which you have a liberal lion, Justice Ginsburg, being potentially replaced by someone who the president and all of his supporters are acknowledging is extremely conservative, Amy Barrett. And I think that’s why you’ll see such a fever pitch over this nomination, because it’s so transformative in a way some others have not been,” he said. (RELATED: Democrat Impeachment Witness: ‘Brilliant’ Judge Amy Coney Barrett ‘Deserves’ Seat On Supreme Court)
Katyal served as Acting Solicitor General of the United States under President Barack Obama from 2010 to 2011.