President Donald Trump intends to name Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, US media reported Friday, who if confirmed would cement a solid conservative majority on the high court.
The president said this week he will announce his pick to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Saturday, and various media outlets said it would be the 48-year-old conservative judge.
Citing sources close to the process, various media outlets, including The New York Times and CNN, said Trump would nominate Barrett.
If she is confirmed the court would shift to a 6-3 conservative majority.
Asked by journalists if Barrett will indeed be nominated, Trump responded: "I haven't said that."
But he added that he had already made a decision "in my own mind" and that Barrett is "outstanding."
The media reports noted the mercurial Trump could still change his mind before the official announcement, expected at 5 pm (2100 GMT) Saturday.
Democratic opponents, led by presidential candidate Joe Biden, have demanded that Republicans back off on replacing liberal icon Ginsburg -- who died last week -- until after the November 3 election, after it's determined whether Trump will get a second term.
Leaders of the Republican majority in the Senate, which is tasked with confirming Supreme Court nominees, said they have enough support to hold a vote on the nomination either before the election or at worst during the "lame duck" session between the election and the inauguration of the next president in January.
"We will certainly do that this year," Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said.
Barrett, a law professor, was only appointed to the bench for the first time in 2017. A deeply conservative Catholic, she is considered hostile to abortion rights -- a key issue for many Republicans.
The left-leaning government watchdog group Accountable US was unimpressed with the reported choice. "Barrett has proven time and again that protecting businesses — not people — is her top priority," said group president Kyle Herrig.
In 2018, the mother of seven was on the shortlist presented by Trump for a seat vacated by the retirement of justice Anthony Kennedy, a position ultimately filled by Brett Kavanaugh after a ferocious confirmation battle.
A full bench
Earlier Friday, Ginsburg became the first woman and first Jewish person to lie in state at the US Capitol, where the justice's relatives, US lawmakers and dignitaries including Biden paid their respects.
Ginsburg's last wish, reportedly relayed to her granddaughter, was for her seat to be decided by whoever wins the next election.
Trump cast doubt upon the veracity of that in an interview Monday, suggesting it could have been a ploy made up Democratic leaders.
Republican leaders have said that if the fate of a disputed election rests with the Supreme Court, they will need a full bench of judges to prevent a deadlock.
Trump refused Wednesday to clearly guarantee a peaceful transfer of power if he loses, stirring outrage among Democrats.
The Democratic leadership has vowed to do everything in their power to prevent the confirmation of a new justice before the election, but with a 53-47 Republican majority in the Senate, there is little they can do to stop it.