President Donald Trumpsaid he interviewed four Supreme Court candidates on Monday to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, telling reporters he would be making a decision in the coming days. He has often served as a swing vote between the court's liberal and conservative justices.
Trump has said he will announce his nominee on July 9 and that he will make his selection from a list of candidates compiled by conservative legal activists.
Abortion rights is emerging as a litmus test for the next Supreme Court nominee, with Democrats and at least one moderate Republican declaring they wouldn't support a nominee who opposes the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that established a woman's right to abortion. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.) and Sen. Collins said she would only back a judge who would show respect for settled law such as the Roe decision, which has always been anathema to conservatives.
Raj Shah will take leave from his role in the press office to work full time on communications with Congress about the nominaton.
Mr. Trump said last weekend that he narrowed his choice to about five candidates, including two women.
If there is a danger of losing Republican votes, the nominee could prevail by courting Democratic senators seeking re-election this year in states Trump carried in 2016, including Sens.
"Teams of attorneys from the White House Counsel's Office and Department of Justice are working to ensure the president has all the information he needs to choose his nominee", White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday.
Front-runners, according to two people familiar with the process, include D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh, 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and Thomas Hardiman, who was a finalist to be Trump's first high court appointee as well as a fellow judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals with Trump's sister, Maryanne Trump Barry.
"I interviewed and met with four potential justices of our great Supreme Court". Nevertheless, Murkowski did vote for Justice Gorsuch past year.
Trump says he will "probably not" ask potential nominees their thoughts on Roe v. Wade.
The Republicans' 51-to-49 majority in the Senate is even closer because of the absence of ailing Senator John McCain of Arizona. Republicans now control 51 seats in the Senate, which would ordinarily mean that Democrats have a pretty good chance at retaking the Senate during the midterms, when the president's party usually loses some seats in Congress.
Collins appeared on ABC's "This Week" and CNN's "State of the Union", and Leo spoke on "Fox News Sunday".
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