Amy Coney Barrett, US President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, is going before the Senate Judiciary Committee for what could be a fiery confirmation hearing over the next four days.
The 48-year-old conservative jurist has vowed to judge legal cases impartially.
Judge Barrett’s nomination so close to the 3 November presidential election has sparked a political row between the Republicans and rival Democrats.
Judge Barrett’s approval would cement a conservative majority on the top court.
Conservative-leaning justices would then hold a 6-3 majority, shifting its ideological balance for potentially decades to come.
President Trump picked Judge Barrett to replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month aged 87.
The Republicans – who currently hold a slim majority in the US Senate, the body that appoints Supreme Court judges – are now trying to complete the process before Mr Trump takes on Democratic rival Joe Biden in the election.
Who is Amy Coney Barrett?
- favoured by social conservatives due to record on issues like abortion and gay marriage
- a devout Catholic but says her faith does not influence her legal opinion
- is an originalist, which means interpreting US Constitution as authors intended, not moving with the times
- lives in Indiana, has seven children including two adopted from Haiti
Read more: Who is Trump’s Supreme Court pick?
The court’s nine justices serve lifetime appointments, and their rulings can shape public policy on everything from gun and voting rights to abortion and campaign finance.
Democrats fear Judge Barrett’s successful nomination would favour Republicans in politically sensitive cases that reach the Supreme Court.
In his opening statement as the hearing began, committee Chairman Lindsey Graham described Ms Barrett as being “in a category of excellence, something the country should be proud of”.
What will Judge Barrett say in her opening remarks?
In what is effectively an interview for the job, the confirmation hearing will give Judge Barrett a chance to explain her legal philosophy and qualifications for the lifetime post.
In prepared remarks released ahead of Monday’s meeting, Judge Barrett thanks President Trump for “entrusting me with this profound responsibility”, which she calls the “honour of a lifetime”.
In the speech, Judge Barrett will speak of the importance of her family and how her parents prepared her for a “life of service, principle, faith, and love”.
Judge Barrett will pay tribute to judges she has worked with, including former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Justice Scalia’s reasoning “shaped me”, Judge Barrett will say. “His judicial philosophy was straightforward: A judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were.”
Judge Barrett will say she has “resolved to maintain that same perspective” in her legal career.
It is up to elected politicians to make “policy decisions and value