Published: Tue, July 10, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Donald Trump appears to be focusing on these two Supreme Court finalists

Donald Trump appears to be focusing on these two Supreme Court finalists

The Commander-in-Chief said he was "looking forward" to unveiling his pick to join the Supreme Court Sunday evening, adding "an exceptional person will be chosen".

The last-minute jockeying by lawmakers and other political stakeholders played right into the reality show-like gamesmanship surrounding President Trump's choice for Supreme Court nominee - right down to a blast from the past re-emerging on Trump's list of finalists.

The Kentucky Republican reportedly told Trump and White House counsel Donald McGahn last week that Judges Thomas Hardiman and Raymond Kethledge could be confirmed more easily than Judges Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

We're just hours away from President Trump making his official announcement from the White House about who will replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. All three are Republican targets for the confirmation vote: They all supported Gorsuch and come from Trump-won states where they face re-election this fall.

Hardiman is a "late addition" to Trump's final four, per the New York Times, but he was the runner-up to Justice Neil Gorsuch a year ago.

Hardiman, 53, has served on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 2007, having been appointed by Republican former President George W. Bush, after four years as a U.S. district judge in western Pennsylvania. Hardiman was the first person in his family to attend college, and he helped pay for his Georgetown University law degree by driving a taxi.

Kethledge serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati. A former aide to a Republican senator, Kethledge also previously worked as an in-house lawyer for Ford Motor Co.

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But that element of his record is among the reasons that some Republicans in Congress are concerned about a confirmation hearing in the Senate. Though Kennedy is a conservative, he was often a swing vote on big decisions, such as same-sex marriage, abortion and affirmative action. On Sunday he was back to citing "the four people".

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) spoke out about this concern on the air with Fox News on Sunday.

The White House has assembled a team to handle communications, strategy and messaging coordination to defend and push the nomination through on Capitol Hill.

In her 20s, she co-authored a paper that said Catholic judges, if they are faithful to church teachings, are "morally precluded" from enforcing the death penalty.

While the president has been pondering his choice, his aides have been preparing for what is expected to be a tough confirmation fight.

Outside adviser Leonard Leo, now on leave from the Federalist Society, said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that this kind of jockeying is standard, noting that "every potential nominee before announcement gets concerns expressed about them by people who might ultimately support them".

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