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Trump closes in on Supreme Court pick; 3 judges top list

Trump closes in on Supreme Court pick; 3 judges top list

Trump this week interviewed six potential replacements for Kennedy this week, and is expected to make his announcement July 9 (see earlier India-West story here).

As Trump's list tightened, there was some internal concern that the president's options could be narrowed by the public outcry — particularly what had appeared to be mounting conservative reservations about Kavanaugh. He has a personal connection to the president, having served with Trump's sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Thapar, who was confirmed previous year to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, has been on Trump's list of nominees, created shortly after he was elected in 2016. He's still taking input, making calls to Capitol Hill, the official said. He was set to have dinner Friday night with Vice President Mike Pence, who has also been meeting with the finalists.

Pence met in person with Kethledge and Barrett while he was vacationing in IN earlier this week and met with Kavanaugh at the Naval Observatory on Wednesday, said a person familiar with the process who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Earlier in the week, he spoke with seven people on the list.

The fight will be intense, fueled by Kennedy's status as the court's frequent swing vote and the GOP's hair-thin 51-49 Senate majority - effectively 50-49 since January, with Sen.

Conservative activists want Trump to replace him with a nominee who is more unwaveringly conservative.

The source told Reuters that Amy Coney Barrett of IN, a judge on the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, was still IN contention but that the Republican president had been asking more questions about the other two, who have more extensive judicial records.

Cruz said President George H.W. Bush's selection of liberal David Souter was "one of the most consequential errors of his presidency".

They argue that the elected president is empowered by the Constitution to nominate Supreme Court justices - and that he should be granted some latitude to do so. He also pointed to former justices William Brennan, John Paul Stevens and Harry Blackmun, the latter of whom wrote the Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman's right to abortion.

Lee, he said, would be a "sure thing".

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has told colleagues he may not vote for Kavanaugh if the judge is nominated, citing Kavanaugh's role during the Bush administration on cases involving executive privilege and the disclosure of documents to Congress, said a person familiar with Paul's conversations who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Both Kavanaugh and Kethledge have lengthy conservative judicial records.

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. Kethledge, of MI, serves on the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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 a year ago.

Many of these questions surrounded Barrett's Catholic faith-she is a member of a Catholic revivalist group called "People of Praise," in which members swear an oath of loyalty and give each other input on personal life decisions-and some anxious this would influence her political opinions. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, urging them to hold firm in their support of access to abortion services. The American Civil Liberties Union began similar TV ads in both states.