Several days before he is set to announce his pick to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, President Donald Trump has concluded interviews with a short list of potential candidates.
As Fox News reported, the president is now considering a total of six judges who could receive his nomination. Trump is expected to announce his pick on Monday.
Sources with knowledge of the interview process say the appellate judges on his list include Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amul Thapar, Joan Larsen and Thomas Hariman.
Earlier reports indicated he had been considering seven candidates, the seventh being U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. While the lawmaker is on a longer list of possible Supreme Court picks, White House sources say Trump contacted Lee by phone primarily to ask his advice on the matter.
Trump did conduct seven interviews, however, speaking to one potential justice on two different occasions.
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Most reports focus on three candidates — Barrett, Kavanaugh and Kethledge — as Trump’s likeliest picks. Democrats and some Republicans are keeping a close eye on his decision, in particular for its possible impact on the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, made it clear that she would oppose any nominee she believed would repeal the Roe v. Wade decision.
“I think I’ve made it pretty clear that if a nominee has demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade and has said that they’re are not going to abide by that longstanding precedent, that I could not support that nominee,” she said.
While the president said he would not include repealing abortion rights as a litmus test in his decision, he said that would “automatically” be the outcome of his nominees joining the high court.
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“If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that will happen,” he said. “And that will happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.”
Several political analysts have focused on Barrett as the likeliest candidate on Trump’s list.
A Washington Post review of the candidate described her as “young (46), good on her feet, telegenic, unmistakably conservative and with seven children, has the kind of family you want sitting behind you during tense confirmation hearings.”
The article went on to suggest that her gender could play to her benefit in any debate over abortion rights.
Barrett is a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge who served as a law clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia. She has also been a Notre Dame Law School professor.
Kethledge is also considered a likely nominee, compared by supporters to Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Both men previously served as law clerks under the retiring justice.
Sources indicate Trump is also considering Kavanaugh, though some conservative groups have reportedly advised the president against choosing him for a variety of reasons. Of particular concern to some conservatives is a 2011 ruling critics say allowed the Supreme Court to uphold the Obamacare individual mandate.
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