Monday 10 December 2018

Donald Trump holding interviews to fill Supreme Court vacancy

The president will next week announce his choice to replace Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring.

President Donald Trump waves as he leaves Morristown Municipal Airport (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
President Donald Trump waves as he leaves Morristown Municipal Airport (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

By Catherine Lucey and Ken Thomas

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

Eager to build suspense, Mr Trump would not divulge whom he is 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”.

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

The interviews were with federal appeals judges Raymond Kethledge, Amul Thapar, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, sources said following reports from The Washington Post.

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.

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The Supreme Court in Washington (Jessica Gresko/AP)

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

Mr 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.

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Donald Trump has already picked one member of the Supreme Court (Evan Vucci/AP)

Mr 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.

Press Association

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