Trump narrows Supreme Court nominee to 4 names ahead of today’s announcement
ABC News- President Donald Trump has narrowed his choice down to four candidates ahead of Monday’s nomination announcement — his second U.S. Supreme Court justice pick less than two years into his presidency.
Multiple sources tell ABC News that as of Sunday, the final four individuals Trump is considering for the vacancy are Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman.
The reveal is scheduled to take place at 9 p.m. Eastern time during a prime-time address in the White House’s East Room.
Hardiman, who was runner-up to Neil Gorsuch as the president’s Supreme Court pick last year, made a comeback on Trump’s shortlist this weekend in part because of the president’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, who serves with Hardiman on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
But with mere hours left to go before his self-imposed deadline, Trump, who has been consulting with family, friends and advisers this weekend while in Bedminster, New Jersey, has reportedly yet to make a final decision.
He signaled as much while boarding Air Force One Sunday, telling reporters, “I’ll be deciding tonight or tomorrow sometime by 12 o’clock and we’re all going to be meeting at 9 o’clock.
“We are close to making a decision,” Trump said. “Let’s just say it’s the four people. They’re excellent. Every one you can’t go wrong.”
Trump’s aides have prepared briefing books and booked television spots for whomever he picks, anticipating that they’ll have little time to spare between his decision and the reveal, sources tell ABC News.
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.
“I’m very confident with this president’s enthusiasm and with Leader [Mitch] McConnell’s enthusiasm that they can get anybody confirmed,” Leo told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday.
In anticipation of Trump filling the vacancy left by the retiring Anthony Kennedy — widely considered to be the court’s “swing vote” — with a judge thought to have more conservative bona fides, many outside advocacy groups are already bracing for what will likely be a contentious confirmation battle.
Conservative groups like Judicial Crisis Network and American Crossroads have each pledged over $1 million in ads encouraging support or opposition to Trump’s eventual nominee.
Meanwhile, liberal groups like NARAL Pro-Choice, Protect our Care and Demand Justice are pouring millions into ad campaigns of their own, drawing attention to what a conservative-leaning justice might mean for abortion rights, in particular.
Liberal groups have geared up to protect Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that upheld women’s rights to an abortion, from being overturned.
“They know that they will not get a justice nominated if the American people know this is what they want to do,” NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said in a call with reporters last week. “What we need to know is that anyone coming onto the Supreme Court is going to uphold the law of the land and particularly a woman’s right to decide what happens to her own body.”
The issue even prompted moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine, to speak out, telling Stephanopoulos last week that a candidate who would overturn Roe v. Wade “would not be acceptable,” because it indicates an “activist agenda” she didn’t want to see in a judge.
Conservatives, meanwhile, have both downplayed and hailed the possibility of reversing Roe.
“I think it’s a bit of a scare tactic and rank speculation,” Leo said on “This Week” Sunday, saying “nobody really knows” how Trump’s nominee would rule on abortion if it ever arose.
“This is the moment conservative women have been waiting for — the chance to return justice and constitutional limits to the nation’s highest court,” Penny Nance, CEO and president of Concerned Women for America, said in a statement in June. “Our nation is at a pivotal moment, and CWA ladies will be in the center of the action, protecting our future children and grandchildren with grace and dignity.”
Democrats may have a tough time putting up a procedural fight in the Senate, though, after Republicans in 2017 triggered the so-called “nuclear option” that allowed them to end Democratic filibustering of then-nominee Gorsuch by a simple majority vote, as opposed to the 60 votes previously required.