WASHINGTON - By the time President Donald Trump officially introduced Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee Saturday evening at the White House, much of the dramatic tension already had been resolved over what unfolds over the next weeks, months and years.
Barrett, a former law professor and reliably conservative federal appeals court judge for the past three years, had long been the front runner for the spot if Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg left the bench during Trump's presidency.
"She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution," Trump said Saturday from the White House Rose Garden. "I looked and I studied and you are very eminently qualified for this job. You are going to be fantastic. Really fantastic."
Barrett gave a nod during her brief remarks to the woman she would succeed on the Supreme Court.
"Should I be confirmed, I will be mindful of who came before me," Barrett said of Ginsburg, who began her career at a time when women were not welcome in the legal world. "But she not only broke glass ceilings, she smashed them. For that she has won the admiration of women across the country, and indeed, all over the world."
Barrett pointed to the friendship in person between Ginsburg and Justice Antonin Scalia, who she clerked for, "even though they disagreed fiercely in print."
And she directly linked her approach to the law to that of Scalia, whose wife Maureen was in the audience.
"His judicial philosophy is mine, too," Barrett said. "A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold."
In the week after Ginsburg's death, the reality-show-star-turned-president didn't put much effort into creating a mystery around the big reveal of his pick.
The selection leaked to the media a day early. Members of Congress, talking heads and outside advocacy groups already had been drawing battle lines for Senate Republicans' plan for a quick confirmation process for Barrett in what will be a bright and hot political spotlight.