By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Crawfordsville

1. Judge Barrett front runner to replace RBG

With the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Friday, we present a special Saturday Atomic! For the second consecutive election cycle, the death of a Supreme Court justice has thrown a wicked curve ball to the American political scene, this time 45 days before the election. U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly told Howey Politics Indiana the 2018 SCOTUS opening and his vote against Justice Brett Kavanaugh played a huge role in his loss to Mike Braun. Expect 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett ("ACB") to emerge as the frontrunner for the nomination, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying, "President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate." 

President Trump
tweeted late Saturday morning: "We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!" Joe Biden: "The voters should pick a President, and that President should select a successor to Justice Ginsburg. This was the position that the Republican Senate took in 2016, when there were nearly nine months before the election. That is the position the United States Senate must take now, when the election is less than two months away. We are talking about the Constitution and the Supreme Court. That institution should not be subject to politics."

IF "ACB" is nominated and confirmed, she would become the second current SCOTUS justice with Indiana roots. She is a former Notre Dame Law prof and lives in South Bend. Chief Justice John Roberts is a Long Beach native.

2. McConnell reverses stance

Sen. McConnell famously delayed a replacement of Justice Antonin Scalia following his 2016 death nine months before the election, saying it should be selected by the next president. On Friday night, he reversed that stance, saying, "Over the coming days, we are all going to come under tremendous pressure from the press to announce how we will handle the coming nomination. For those of you who are unsure how to answer, or for those inclined to oppose giving a nominee a vote, I urge you all to keep your powder dr. This is not the time to prematurely lock yourselves into a position you may later regret." Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said in 2016 that the delay in an election year would be "the new rule" and added, "I want you to use my words against me." Other GOP senators to watch include Sens. Susan Collins, Mitt Romney and Cory Gardner. Collins, Gardner and Graham are all in tough reelection bids. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is on record saying the vacancy should be filled by who wins in November.

3. Young, Braun mum

U.S. Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun, both Republicans, have not said how they will proceed. Young: “As Americans mourn the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we remember her extraordinary life. Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer in the legal profession, rising to become the second female to serve on the nation's highest court and earning a special place in our nation's history." U.S. Rep. Jim Banks: "I hope the President will nominate Amy Coney Barrett and the Senate confirms her before the end of the year."

4. ACB's resume

President Trump was described this morning as "salivating" to nominate Judge Barrett. Trump said after the Kavanaugh nomination that he was "saving" ACB for "Ginsburg." Barrett clerked for Justice Scalia. IndyStar: She has written that Supreme Court precedents are not sacrosanct, which liberals have interpreted as a threat to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide. A former member of Notre Dame’s “Faculty for Life,” Barrett signed a 2015 letter to Catholic bishops that affirmed the “teachings of the Church as truth.” Among those teachings: the “value of human life from conception to natural death” and marriage-family values “founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman.”

5. Pence reacts to Troye

Vice President Mike Pence
reacted to former coronavirus task force aide Olivia Troye's defection to Joe Biden: “It reads to me like one more disgruntled employee who has left the White House and now has decided to play politics during an election year. While some may want to play politics and say different things once they leave here than while they’re here, we’re going to stay focused.” 

Enjoy your weekend. It's The Atomic!