From big family to US high court, Amy Coney Barrett 'used to being in group of nine'

US President Donald Trump has nominated Ms Amy Coney Barrett to succeed liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - As the parent of seven children, Ms Amy Coney Barrett knows about working with a large group: it is an experience she will have again if confirmed as the ninth justice on the US Supreme Court - and its first mother with school-age children.

In a flag-bedecked White House Rose Garden, US President Donald Trump on Saturday (Sept 26) nominated the 48-year-old Ms Barrett for the seat left open by the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Husband Jesse Barrett and their seven children were on hand and visited with Mr Trump in the Oval Office.

"The president has asked me to become the ninth justice, and as it happens I'm used to being in a group of nine, my family," Ms Barrett said.

A conservative appeals court judge, Ms Barrett is likely to face fierce opposition by Democrats determined to stymie her nomination as long as possible even though Republicans appear to have the votes to confirm her in the weeks ahead.

The country's first look at the Barrett, however, was as a parent with cooking challenges who, with her husband, has been "co-principals of the Barrett e-learning academy" at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Trump made a point of mentioning that Ms Barrett would be the first-ever mother of school-age kids on the high court, a point noted by Mr Trump, who carefully pronounced the names of all seven children.

Ms Barrett caught Mr Trump's attention in her 2017 confirmation fight to become an appeals court judge, when she was engaged in a back and forth with Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein about her Catholic religion.

"The dogma lives loudly within you, and that's a concern," Ms Feinstein told her.

Ms Barrett's strong defence left a "favourable impression" on Mr Trump, who admired her toughness, a source familiar with Mr Trump's thinking said.

Shortly thereafter, members of the White House counsel's office had coffee mugs made with the slogan, "The Dogma Lives Loudly Within You."

Ms Feinstein on Saturday wrote on Twitter: "Judge Barrett clearly passes the president's conservative litmus tests or he wouldn't have nominated her. She would push the Supreme Court further to the right, putting many rights and protections that the American people have fought for and deeply cherish at risk."

Ms Barrett cast herself as someone who respects Ms Ginsburg for her advocacy of women worldwide but would act more in the mold of her conservative mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she served as a Supreme Court clerk.

But she said she would try to act in a way to represent all Americans.

"If confirmed, I would not assume that role for the sake of those in my own circle and certainly not for my own sake. I would assume this role to serve you," she said.

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