Trump still pondering Supreme Court pick as big reveal nears

Blanche Robertson
July 9, 2018

Estrada was a supremely qualified nominee who had the support of a clear majority in the Senate.

President Trump is expected to announce his nominee in a prime-time ceremony Monday night.

Top contenders for the role are federal appeals judges Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett and Thomas Hardiman. Further, the group founded three schools that have won seven Department of Education Blue Ribbon awards, and the late Cardinal Francis George wrote: "In my acquaintance with the People of Praise, I have found men and women dedicated to God and eager to seek and do His divine will". Trump says he'll choose from among the 25 candidates on the list on Monday to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. The new justice has the potential to entrench conservative control of the Supreme Court for years to come.

As the President vets candidates who could become his next Supreme Court justice nominee, Trump's level of comfort with each candidate is a key factor, according to Axios. He has not yet publicly indicated that he has narrowed the list and could still consider others in the mix. Sen. Trump needs her vote. All he has to do is make up his mind.

Among the three, Trump now favors Kavanaugh and Kethledge over Barrett, according to the people.

The president has also spoken via phone with Utah Sen.

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These conservatives, including Texas Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, about the process.

What the Trump two dozen get in return involves a measure of prestige, but also headaches.

Despite Trump's suspicion of anyone with closely-held ties to the Bush family, he has suggested that he wants a nominee with degrees from an Ivy League like Harvard or Yale. He also prioritizes academic credentials and likes to have a breadth of legal opinions to gauge how the judge applies the law.

The Republican governor said during a radio interview that the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that decriminalized abortion "should not be an issue" that decides whether a nominee to the bench is successful. That could be a problem for Kethledge if what Trump really meant was that he wants an Ivy Leaguer, like the rest of the high court. John McCain away from Washington, any defections by Republicans could begin to imperil a nominee. Some conservative activists have expressed concern about Kavanaugh's two decades in Washington.

Many progressive opponents of Barrett are pointing to a September 28, 2017, New York Times article by Laurie Goodstein that essentially concluded she was a member of a cult, a "small, tightly knit Christian group called People of Praise". As a former clerk who worked at the Supreme Court for Justice Scalia and as a Notre Dame law professor, Barrett has the necessary training, knowledge, and philosophy to serve on the Supreme Court. Kethledge and Kavanaugh both clerked for Kennedy; Barrett was a law clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who was replaced by the Trump-nominated Neil Gorsuch a year ago. But the tactical approach in question - appealing directly to the American public - speaks to the extent to which the court of popular opinion has become a formidable force in US politics in the aftermath of Trump's election. Additionally, three Democrats - including Donnelly and Manchin - supported Barrett when Trump nominated her to the bench a year ago. He has a personal connection to the president, having served with Trump's sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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