The announcement is to be made at 9:00 pm from the East Room of the White House.
What we know:
- Mitch McConnell has promised that the vote will take place prior to the November mid-term elections.
- Democrats are left with little power to block Trump’s Supreme Court nominee; thanks to Harry Reid and Barack Obama, rule changes mean a candidate can be approved with a simple majority.
- The potential nominees were narrowed down from a list of 25 administration-approved judges, former judges and one member of Congress, as curated by Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society and Trump’s top Supreme Court adviser. President Trump’s Supreme Court List
There are several “winners” on President Trump’s short list. President Trump said Sunday that:
“We are close to making a decision. Let’s just say it’s the four people. They’re excellent. Every one you can’t go wrong.”
These are rumored to be the four likely candidates, all Federal Appeals Court judges:
- Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (age 46), graduate of Notre Dame Law School.
- Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (age 53), graduate of Georgetown Law School.
- Brett Kavanaugh of Maryland, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (age 53), graduate of Yale Law School.
- Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (age 51), graduate of University of Michigan Law School.
More about the background and experience of the potential nominees:
All of the candidates are young, and no matter which one is selected, he/she could shape legal doctrine for several decades. All are conservatives, intelligent, educated, and experienced.
Judge Barrett is the least experienced, and potentially most controversial. She is known to be a devout Catholic, and was questioned closely about her beliefs during her confirmation hearing last year. She would almost certainly be targeted for questioning about her beliefs concerning abortion, and how they would influence her decision regarding any challenges to Roe v. Wade that might come before the court.
Raymond Kethledge is a close friend of Justice Neil Gorsuch, and said to be his “ideological twin, his intellectual peer, his real-life fishing buddy, and his close personal friend.” He is the only non-Catholic of the four shortlisters, and an evangelical Christian.
Thomas Hardiman has a strong record in favor of gun rights. When the court he serves on upheld a New Jersey law requiring a gun owner to obtain a permit to carry a gun in public places and to show that he has “a justifiable need”, Hardiman dissented, saying that it was a violation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution by requiring those seeking to carry a handgun to demonstrate a “justifiable need” for such a permit. Hardiman was the first in his family to attend college. He attended Notre Dame for his undergraduate degree and then Georgetown law, paying his way through school by driving a taxi. He serves on the same Court as did the sister of President Trump. Maryanne Trump Barry supported Hardiman’s nomination when he was last considered for the Supreme Court, in 2017.
According to National Review, regarding Brett Kavanaugh: “On the vital issues of protecting religious liberty and enforcing restrictions on abortion, no court-of-appeals judge in the nation has a stronger, more consistent record than Judge Brett Kavanaugh. On these issues, as on so many others, he has fought for his principles and stood firm against pressure. He would do the same on the Supreme Court.” Kavanaugh was Staff Secretary in the Executive Office of the President of the United States under President George W. Bush. Kavanaugh played a lead role in drafting the Starr report, which urged the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. He also led the investigation into the suicide of Clinton aide Vincent Foster. After the 2000 U.S. Presidential election, Kavanaugh worked for the George W. Bush campaign in the Florida recount. In 2003, he was nominated to the Appeals Court, but the nomination was stalled until 2006 because of charges of partisanship.
What do I think? I like all of the nominees, although the two most conservative nominees – Barrett and Kavanaugh – will face the most opposition. I like Barrett very much, but she has the least amount of experience, and might be a better replacement later on for, say, Ginsburg or Sotomayor.
My personal favorite? Raymond Kethledge. He just edges out Barrett in my estimation, but I would be pleased with any of them.