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Amy Coney Barrett front-runner on Trump's list of justice nominees: Sources

ABC News logo ABC News 9/20/2020
a person wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: U.S. Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a former law professor at the University of Notre Dame. © University of Notre Dame Law School U.S. Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a former law professor at the University of Notre Dame.

A conservative female federal judge appears to be the lead contender on President Donald Trump's list of potential nominees to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, multiple sources familiar with the thinking of the president and his advisers told ABC News.

Trump is expected to put forth a nominee in the coming days, and while it is still early in the process, U.S. Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett is seen as a leading contender, several sources told ABC News. Barrett was one of four finalists in Trump's search for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's replacement in 2018.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs for campaign travel to Minnesota from the South Lawn at the White House, Sept. 18, 2020. © Kevin Lamarque/Reuters President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs for campaign travel to Minnesota from the South Lawn at the White House, Sept. 18, 2020.

Trump told reporters Saturday evening he will most likely choose a woman.

"If somebody were to ask me now, I would say that a woman would be in first place, yes," Trump said before traveling to North Carolina for a rally. "The choice of a woman, I would say, would certainly be appropriate."

When asked specifically about Barrett, he said she is "very respected."

Barrett joins three other federal judges on the shortlist of potential picks, according to ABC News' sources. Here's a quick look at the four potential nominees:

MORE: Donald Trump to put forth nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in coming days: Sources

Judge Amy Coney Barrett

Barrett, 48, was confirmed in October 2017 to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. She is a former Notre Dame law professor who had clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

a person wearing a purple shirt: U.S. Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a former law professor at the University of Notre Dame. © University of Notre Dame Law School U.S. Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a former law professor at the University of Notre Dame.

Judge Barbara Lagoa


Video: Trump likely to name woman to succeed Ginsburg (Reuters - US Video Online)

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Lagoa, 52, was appointed to the 11th Circuit in Atlanta last year and previously served on the Florida Supreme Court. She has also served as district judge on the Florida 3rd District Court of Appeal and as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

On Saturday, when asked about Lagoa, Trump called her an "extraordinary person."

"I’ve heard incredible things about her. I don't know her," he said. "She's Hispanic and highly respected."

a woman wearing a hat and smiling at the camera: Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Lagoa, currently a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, poses in a 2019 photo. © Florida Supreme Court/via Reuters Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Lagoa, currently a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, poses in a 2019 photo.

Judge Allison Jones Rushing

Rushing, 38, was appointed to the 4th Circuit in Virginia last year and was previously a partner at Williams & Connolly. She has clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas.

Judge Amul Thapar

Thapar, 51, was a federal judge in Kentucky before Trump nominated him to the 6th Circuit in May 2017. He would be the first Asian American Justice if appointed.

Amul Thapar wearing a suit and tie: District Court Judge Amul Thapar for the Eastern District of Kentucky talks with The Associated Press in Lexington, Ky., May 18, 2006. © Ed Reinke/AP, File District Court Judge Amul Thapar for the Eastern District of Kentucky talks with The Associated Press in Lexington, Ky., May 18, 2006.

MORE: Trump calls on Senate Republicans to act 'without delay' on SCOTUS pick

Other potential nominees, based on ABC News reporting, include Judge Joan Larsen, 51, who was confirmed to the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati in October 2017 and previously served on the Michigan Supreme Court, and Judge Thomas Hardiman, 55, of the 3rd Circuit at Philadelphia, who was a top contender for the first two vacancies under President Trump.

Judges Raymond Kethledge, Britt Grant and Neomi Rao are other names in consideration, ABC News has learned.

ABC News' Devin Dwyer, Kate Shaw and Elizabeth Thomas contributed to this report.

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