Advertisement

Trump says he’s interviewed 4 candidates to replace retiring supreme court justice

Click to play video: 'Trump to meet more SCOTUS candidates this week: White House' Trump to meet more SCOTUS candidates this week: White House
WATCH: White House confirms that President Trump to meet more SCOTUS candidates this week – Jul 3, 2018

President Donald Trump interviewed four prospective Supreme Court justices on Monday and had plans to meet with a few more as his White House aggressively mobilizes to select a replacement for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Eager to build suspense, Trump wouldn’t divulge who he’s talking to in advance of his big announcement, set for July 9. But he promised that “they are outstanding people. They are really incredible people in so many different ways, academically and in every other way. I had a very, very interesting morning.”

WATCH: White House says Trump won’t talk to Supreme Court nominees about Roe v. Wade

Click to play video: 'White House says Trump won’t talk to Supreme Court nominees about Roe v. Wade' White House says Trump won’t talk to Supreme Court nominees about Roe v. Wade
White House says Trump won’t talk to Supreme Court nominees about Roe v. Wade – Jul 2, 2018

Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump met with four people for 45 minutes each on Monday and will continue meetings through the rest of the week.

Story continues below advertisement

Possible nominees being eyed include Thomas Hardiman, who serves alongside Trump’s sister on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Raymond Kethledge, a federal appeals court judge who clerked for Kennedy. Also of interest are Amul Thapar, who serves on the federal appeals court in Cincinnati; Brett Kavanaugh, a former clerk for Kennedy who serves on the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.; and Amy Coney Barrett, who serves on the federal appeals court in Chicago.

WATCH: Trump says he’s interviewed four potential Supreme Court nominee, will make pick soon

Click to play video: 'Decision on new U.S. Supreme Court nominee could reopen old debates' Decision on new U.S. Supreme Court nominee could reopen old debates
Decision on new U.S. Supreme Court nominee could reopen old debates – Jul 2, 2018

The president spent the weekend at his Bedminster golf club, consulting with advisers, including White House counsel Don McGahn, as he considers his options to fill the vacancy with a justice who has the potential to be part of precedent-shattering court decisions on abortion, health care, gay marriage and other issues.

Story continues below advertisement

McGahn will lead the overall selection and confirmation process, the White House said Monday, repeating the role he played in the successful confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch last year.

McGahn will be supported by a White House team that includes spokesman Raj Shah, taking a leave from the press office to work full time on “communications, strategy and messaging coordination with Capitol Hill allies.” Justin Clark, director of the Office of Public Liaison, will oversee White House coordination with outside groups.

Trump’s push came as the Senate’s top Democrat tried to rally public opposition to any Supreme Court pick who would oppose abortion rights. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a campaign-season call to action for voters to prevent such a nominee by putting “pressure on the Senate,” which confirms judicial nominees.

READ MORE: Donald Trump will announce Supreme Court pick to replace Justice Kennedy in early July

With Trump committed to picking from a list of 25 potential nominees that he compiled with guidance from conservatives, Schumer said any of them would be “virtually certain” to favor overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that affirmed women’s right to abortion. They would also be “very likely” to back weakening President Barack Obama’s 2010 law that expanded health care coverage to millions of Americans, he said.

Schumer said that while Democrats don’t control the Senate — Republicans have a 51-49 edge — most senators back abortion rights. In an unusually direct appeal to voters, he said that to block “an ideological nominee,” people should “tell your senators” to oppose anyone from Trump’s list.

Story continues below advertisement

“It will not happen on its own,” the New Yorker wrote in an opinion column in Monday’s New York Times. “It requires the public’s focus on these issues, and its pressure on the Senate.”

U.S. Senate kicks off battle over Trump’s Supreme Court pick

Click to play video: 'U.S. Senate kicks off battle over Trump’s Supreme Court pick' U.S. Senate kicks off battle over Trump’s Supreme Court pick
U.S. Senate kicks off battle over Trump’s Supreme Court pick – Jun 29, 2018

Schumer’s column appeared a day after Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she would oppose any nominee she believed would overturn Roe v. Wade. Collins, who appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and CNN’s “State of the Union,” said she would only back a judge who would show respect for settled law such as the Roe decision, which has long been anathema to conservatives.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters in Ashland, Kentucky, on Monday that “it’s probably going to be close; I think there will be a big national, campaign rage. But in the end, I’m confident we’ll get the judge confirmed.”

Story continues below advertisement

During his 2016 campaign and presidency, Trump has embraced anti-abortion groups and vowed to appoint federal judges who will favor efforts to roll back abortion rights. But he told reporters on Friday that he would not question potential high-court nominees about their views on abortion, saying it was “inappropriate to discuss.”

WATCH: Joe Biden remarks on Trump choosing Supreme Court pick

Click to play video: 'Joe Biden remarks on Trump choosing Supreme Court pick' Joe Biden remarks on Trump choosing Supreme Court pick
Joe Biden remarks on Trump choosing Supreme Court pick – Jun 29, 2018

Without Kennedy, the high court will have four justices picked by Democratic presidents and four picked by Republicans, giving Trump the chance to shift the ideological balance toward conservatives for years to come. Both Chief Justice John Roberts and Gorsuch, Trump’s first pick to the high court, have indicated more broadly that they respect legal precedent.

Trump has said he is focusing on up to seven potential candidates, including two women, to fill the vacancy being left by Kennedy, a swing vote on the nine-member court.

Story continues below advertisement

Currently the court has three women justices, all appointed by Democrats. Court watchers have been discussing the prospect of a conservative woman on the bench.

Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, said she did not think picking a woman was “the top concern” of Trump, stressing judicial philosophy and experience. But she added: “If he does end up nominating a woman, she can stand on her own accomplishments.”

Anna Chu, vice president for strategy and policy at the National Women’s Law Center, said she was concerned that a female pick could be a kind of “Trojan horse.”

“What’s important in addition to increasing diversity is how that person would actually interpret law,” Chu said. “There are real stakes here. You could be a woman and not be fair minded.”

Sponsored content