President Trump Has Announced His Nominee for the Supreme Court - Katie Pavlich

President Trump Has Announced His Nominee for the Supreme Court - Katie Pavlich

The high court handed Trump and his administration a series of victories in its term that ended on the day of Kennedy's retirement, including a major decision upholding the president's travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.

The president hasn't indicated the leading candidate, only saying "an exceptional person will be chosen".

CBS has learned he's narrowed the list of contenders to four appeals court judges. Since 2006, he has been a judge on the federal appeals court in Washington. The president also has been considering federal appeals court Judges Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman.

Hardiman serves on the same court as Maryanne Barry Trump, which is based in Philadelphia.

Trump's nom was unveiled in the White House's East Room, picking from his short list provided by right-wing Federalist Society.

Kavanaugh, 53, had always been mentioned in Washington chatter as a potential high court choice by a Republican president because of his educational background, intellectual firepower and an unyielding commitment to a legal approach championed by conservative Supreme Court justices such as Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Conservative judicial advocates say the judicial appointments are correcting the leftward tilt of the bench.

The New York Times is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has weighed in and is trying to urge Trump to pick either Kethledge or Hardiman for ease of confirmation. He had previously worked with independent counsel Kenneth Starr in the investigation of President Bill Clinton and was involved in the Florida presidential vote recount in 2000.

The Senate's top Democrat Chuck Schumer said he would fight the nomination "with everything I have". Meanwhile, liberal groups like NARAL Pro-Choice, Protect our Care and Demand Justice are pouring millions into ad campaigns of their own, drawing attention to what a conservative-leaning justice might mean for abortion rights, in particular.

Hardiman was the runner-up to succeed Antonin Scalia, the seat Neil Gorsuch eventually occupied after being confirmed in 2017.

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Kavanaugh, 53, on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is a 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.

The GOP's focus on the judiciary has been sharpened by their narrow 51-49 Senate majority, which has made passing legislation hard.

Meanwhile, liberal groups are already calling on two moderate Republican senators - Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska - to reject the nominee. We could see hearings as soon as next month.

Kavanaugh should be questioned closely by senators about his views of the Constitution, the role of precedent and, yes, what he thinks of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion.

The battle for Senate confirmation of Trump's Supreme Court pick is likely to be one of the most intense.

Trump is scheduled to announce his decision at 9 p.m. Monday, and it is unclear how much of the last-minute maneuvering is geared to keeping the president's choice a secret.

"I'm getting very close to making a final decision", Trump told reporters as he left Morristown, N.J., on Sunday to return to the White House.

The looming midterm elections in November also could be a factor. Now, he is President Donald Trump's nominee to become a Supreme Court justice. That's not to say that something won't be said today or tomorrow that I totally, 100 percent disagree with.

"They just didn't get it, but they do now!"

-With assistance from Greg Stohr, Laura Litvan and Ben Brody.

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