President Donald Trump is going down to the wire as he makes his choice on a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, but he says with his final four options "you can't go wrong".
While activists and progressive groups are targeting moderate Republican senators who support abortion rights like Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, urging them to reject any Trump nominee who is hostile to Roe v. Wade, a handful of Democrats will be key in deciding whether the president gets his pick confirmed to the high court, because of the razor-thin partisan divide in the Senate. He is now a lobbyist in the Washington headquarters of Covington & Burling. Kennedy, a member of the Judiciary Committee, which will get the first chance to question the nominee, predicted a "rough, tough, down in the dirt, ear-pulling, nose-biting fight". "Maybe a handful of Democrats will vote for a Trump pick because they have to politically". SCOTUSblog, which covers actions of the Supreme Court, said his opinions have shown an "originalist approach to the Second Amendment right to bear arms", and that he "has not weighed in directly on issues relating to abortion" - two hot-button issues.
On Sunday Leonard Leo, a Federalist Society official who has been advising Trump, added a fourth name: that of Thomas Hardiman, 53, a federal appeals court judge in Philadelphia.
Although Trump said during the campaign he would appoint anti-abortion judges who would overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, he said he would not ask candidates about whether they think the ruling should be reversed.More news: History beckons as France take on Belgium
But finalists' faith was still a major talking point over the last week, especially when it came to Appellate Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who now serves on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The White House hopes Kyl's close ties to Senate Republicans will help smooth the path for confirmation.
"From the perspective of judicial conservatives, Trump really can't lose here", Josh Blackman, an associate professor at South Texas College of Law, told AFP.
Kavanaugh is expected to meet in coming days with senators at their offices, going door-to-door in get-to-know-you sessions ahead of confirmation hearings.
The decision - awaited eagerly by his conservative supporters, and with trepidation by his liberal opponents - was to be announced at 9:00 pm (0100 GMT Tuesday) in a prime time address from the White House.More news: NATO Braces for Trump Visit, But Fears May Be Overplayed
Democrats have turned their attention to pressuring two Republicans, Sens.
Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey, D, who voted against Gorsuch and is facing re-election in a state Trump narrowly won, announced that he will oppose anyone Trump chooses.
"Any judge on this list is fruit of a corrupt process straight from the DC swamp". Any Senator who is serious about protecting the environment and fighting climate change must vote against confirmation. Hardiman was on the president's short list when he nominated Neil Gorsuch to replace Justice Antonin Scalia.
Barrett - a longtime Notre Dame Law School professor who became a federal appeals judge last fall - excited social conservatives with her testimony when she was questioned about her Roman Catholic faith in her nomination hearings a year ago.More news: George Clooney Injured in Italy Car Crash
By Monday Barrett, at 46 the youngest and the only woman of the four, was being widely discounted due to her relative inexperience and her strong views as a social and religious conservative.
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