US President Donald Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a favourite of social conservatives, to be the new Supreme Court justice.
Speaking at the White House Rose Garden, Trump described her as a “woman of unparalleled achievement”.
Judge Barrett would replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died of cancer on 18 September.
Her nomination will spark a bitter Senate fight to get her confirmed as November’s presidential election looms.
Supreme Court justices are nominated by the US president, but must be approved by the Senate.
Trump said Judge Barrett was a “stellar scholar and judge” with “unyielding loyalty to the constitution”.
If Judge Barrett is confirmed, conservative-leaning justices will hold a 6-3 majority on the US’s highest court for the foreseeable future.
The 48-year-old would be the third justice appointed by this Republican president, after Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.
The Supreme 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 long after the presidents who appoint them leave office.
In recent years, the court has expanded gay marriage to all 50 states, allowed for Trump’s travel ban on mainly Muslim countries to be put in place, and delayed a US plan to cut carbon emissions