Trump weighs 2 or 3 candidates for court, to meet with Pence

Judge Amy Coney Barrett a potential Supreme Court nominee has defended overturning precedents

President Trump has promised to announce his nominee to fill Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's vacated seat by Monday, June 9.

"I think I've made it pretty clear if a nominee has demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade and has said that they're not going to abide by that long-standing precedent, that I could not support that nominee", Collins told reporters at a holiday parade in Bangor. And I think of the four people, I have it down to three or two, " Trump said.

While aides prepared for a prime-time announcement Monday night and the confirmation battle sure to follow, officials said they could not rule out a surprise pick by the president.

Kavanaugh, who was among five people added late previous year to Trump's eventual list of 25 potential nominees, is the favorite of the conservative legal establishment because of his long record on issues ranging from the separation of powers and executive privilege to abortion, immigration and gun rights.

That list is headed by federal appeals court judges Raymond Kethledge of MI and Amy Coney Barrett of IN, said people familiar with the selection process who where not authorized to speak publicly about internal deliberations. He's the only lawmaker on Trump's list. Neither faces re-election this year, but both are centrists who've backed abortion rights and helped block their party's 2017 drive to repeal former President Barack Obama's health care statute. The person did not specify which candidates Pence met with and spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday to describe the private search process.

Winnie Wong, political adviser of Women's March, said her liberal activist group is planning marches, rallies and "massive civil disobedience" and said Schumer should press all Democrats to oppose Trump's nominee. Earlier in the week, he spoke with seven of them.

The president also spoke by phone with Republican Sen. The White House did not characterize that call as an interview, and Lee is not viewed as a top prospect.

Aware that judicial picks are key voting issues, Trump has stressed that he wants a justice who will be a strict constitutionalist.

Starting from a list of 25 names vetted by conservative groups, Trump has also given serious consideration to federal appeals court judges Amul Thapar and Joan Larsen, and it's possible the White House will prepare materials for more people.

Cruz said President George H.W. Bush's selection of liberal David Souter was "one of the most consequential errors of his presidency". All three were nominated by Republican presidents. He cited former justices William Brennan, John Paul Stevens and Harry Blackmun, who authored the Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman's right to abortion.

As Trump closes in on his second court pick in two years — a nominee who could tip the balance toward conservatives and revisit landmark rulings on abortion access, gay marriage and other issues — momentum is also growing among GOP supporters and detractors of the top contenders. Both jurists served as law clerks to Kennedy and were appointed to appeals courts by George W. Bush. Kethledge, a Michigan Law graduate, would add academic diversity to a court steeped in the Ivy League.

Amy Coney Barrett, 46, is a former law clerk to Scalia and was appointed to serve on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals by Trump previous year. Both are in their early 50s and potentially could serve decades in the lifetime post on the nine-member court.

During the confirmation process, Senate Democrats questioned Barrett about her Catholicism and past writings in which she said Catholic judges were in a "legal bind" in cases related to abortion and the death penalty. Recognizing the stakes, many Democrats have lined up in opposition to any Trump pick. Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who have defended abortion rights.

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