Earlier this week, Trump promised to choose a nominee from a list of 25 conservative leaders, most of whom already are judges on federal circuit courts and state supreme courts.
Trump spoke about his plans for nominating a replacement for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy aboard Air Force One en route to Bedminster, New Jersey.
A person familiar with the process said White House officials are focused primarily on five federal appeals court judges — Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Kethledge and Amul Thapar — all Republican appointees with conservative track records.
It isn’t clear what other woman might be on Trump’s short list. Trump said Friday he may consider as many as seven candidates.
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The president, who had compiled a list of 25 candidates since his campaign, said he may interview one or two candidates this weekend at his resort in Bedminster. He said he’s not going to ask them whether they’d vote to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion-rights ruling, a decades-long aspiration of the Republican Party.
That the president will not ask a potential nominee to promise a vote o any given topic is not surprising and not problematic, as any potential nominees who inappropriately promise a vote on any possible Supreme Court case would be forced to recuse themselves from the case. Not asking about a vote on overturning Roe doesn’t mean it is impossible to discern the judicial temperament of a nominee anther whether a possible nominee favors judicial restraint or making law from the bench.
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Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah isn’t among the leading candidates, the person said.
Trump’s July 9 time frame could prove optimistic. The FBI is still conducting background checks, the person said.
Hardiman and Thapar were among the group interviewed by Trump before he selected Neil Gorsuch for a vacancy last year. Kethledge was also under consideration for that opening, though he didn’t get an interview with Trump.
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement Wednesday. As a result, Trump will have the opportunity to appoint a justice who could swing the court conservative and be a deciding vote in overturning Roe v. Wade.
But Senate Democrats are promising to do everything possible to block the confirmation of Trump’s nominee until after the mid-term elections, when they hope to regain the Senate and block all future nominees as well.
Leading abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood already are putting the wheels in motion for fundraising and political action plans to attempt to stop any nominee who might overturn Roe v Wade. That will put the onus on pro-life advocates to step up their fundraising and put up concerted efforts to ensure the next Supreme Court justice is someone who will respect the rule of law rather than make up a fictitious abortion right from the bench.
The good news for pro-life advocates is that Republicans hold a small majority in the Senate and have been successful in approving Trump’s nominees on a majority vote. Sen. McConnell has been successful in ensuring that the Senate can vote on such nominees without a filibuster by pro-abortion Democrats.