Published: Tue, July 03, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

President Trump talks to 4 possible court nominees as interviews begin

President Trump talks to 4 possible court nominees as interviews begin

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK - U.S. President Donald Trump said he met with four potential Supreme Court justices on Monday, while a person familiar with the selection process said Trump was focused keenly on two people, although others were still in contention. CBS News has learned that Washington D.C. circuit court Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Chicago circuit court Judge Amy Coney Barrett are now the leading contenders. A person with knowledge of the meetings confirmed the participants but requested anonymity to discuss them.

The Senate's top Democrat is trying to rally public opposition to any Supreme Court nominee 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. Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, moderate Republicans who support access to abortion services and aren't up for re-election, making it less likely either will feel pressure to be in lockstep with the polarizing president.

"I would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade because that would mean to me that their judicial philosophy did not include a respect for established decisions, established law", Collins said. The president said last week that he is looking for another justice who closely models Gorsuch, saying he has been an "outstanding" justice for the Supreme Court.

Such a judge, she said, "would not be acceptable to me because that would indicate an activist agenda".

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Trump has said he will make his nomination on July 9. Raj Shah, the principal deputy press secretary, will take leave from his post to handle "communications, strategy and messaging coordination with Capitol Hill allies" full time, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. In an unusually direct appeal to voters, he said that to block "an ideological nominee", people should "tell your senators" to oppose anyone from Trump's list.

One of the candidates in a short list of 25 potential nominees announced by Trump during his campaign included Judge Amul Thapar, who is now a federal judge in Kentucky.

Trump has said he is focusing on up to seven potential candidates, including two women, to fill the vacancy created by Kennedy, a swing vote on the nine-member court.

Republicans control the chamber but only by a slim majority, making the views of moderates, including some Democrats, important.

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McGahn held the same role for the process that led to Trump's selection of Neil Gorsuch, who has become one of the most conservative justices on the court. Barrett was named by Trump to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. John McCain, R-Ariz., battling brain cancer and only a 51-49 GOP majority - could make him a tough pick for the high court.

In the case of a 50-50 vote on the nominee, Vice President Mike Pence could cast the tie-breaking vote.

Collins appeared on ABC's "This Week" and CNN's "State of the Union", Leo spoke on "Fox News Sunday" and Graham was on NBC's "Meet the Press".

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