Trump nears decision on replacement for Supreme Court

Frederick Owens
July 9, 2018

Judge Amul Thapar, of the US Court of Appeal for the Sixth Circuit, was originally among those President Trump would be considering for Kennedy's position.

He crafted Trump's short list of potential Supreme Court nominees.

Leonard Leo, who is advising Trump on his pick to fill the seat of Justice Anthony Kennedy, said two names on the president's shortlist - Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman - had less established conservative records, making it harder to line up support should they be selected.

Her socially conservative views and affiliation with People of Praise, a tight-knit religious lay group, are already attracting suspicion. McCaskill, a centrist Democrat who broke with her other red state colleagues by voting against Neil Gorsuch past year, insists that she has not already made up her mind to vote "no" against retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy's successor.

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of SC and Roy Blunt of Missouri said Sunday that they believe any of the top four contenders could get confirmed by the GOP-majority Senate.

Outside adviser Leonard Leo, now on leave from the Federalist Society, said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that this kind of jockeying is standard, noting that "every potential nominee before announcement gets concerns expressed about them by people who might ultimately support them".

It's no secret that Leo's goal is to populate federal courts with judges who oppose abortion rights.

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The New York Times on Sunday reported that the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, was strongly urging Trump to opt for either Hardiman or Kethledge on grounds that the other two might be impossible to get confirmed.

Justice Kennedy, 81, recently announced his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh, who has been seen as the front-runner, has inspired a broad campaign among supporters, but also a round of criticism from some Republicans, who have called his decisions in abortion and health care cases insufficiently conservative. He lost by 3 million votes. "I've never seen a president of the United States in effect make himself a puppet of outside groups and choose from a group of right-wing fringe ideologues that are prepared on this list".

Ilyse Hogue, president of the pro-abortion organization Naral, told Fox News Sunday that Trump had changed the rules of the game.

But, interestingly in the piece, he makes references to the nominee as "her". And analysts say Trump's latest pick for the court could provide the fifth vote needed to rescind Roe v. Wade. She pointed to the confirmation process of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993 in which she said that all women should be afforded the right to privacy to make their own decision.

Blumenthal acknowledged that the Democrats have few options to stop the confirmation in the Senate, which Republicans control by a 51-49 margin, but said they would plead their case to the American public.

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