Orrin Hatch May Have Revealed Trump's SCOTUS Nominee

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Adding to the theatre of the appointment, Mr Trump says he has narrowed his choice down to three candidates - but hinted not even all of his inner circle are aware of his choice yet.

Various news outlets have reported that Trump has interviewed seven potential nominees - Lee and federal appellate judges Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Raymond Kethledge, Amul Thapar, Joan Larsen and Thomas Hardiman.

Trump's nominee will replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his intention to retire last week after three decades on the high court.

"I think I have it down to four people", the president said aboard Air Force One. "Republicans have run roughshod over traditions to get these Federalist Society nominees approved, and we're making sure that we communicate just how unprecedented this list is - to have specific litmus tests for Supreme Court justices". Some conservatives have been lobbying against him, worrying that his upbringing in the suburbs of Washington could mean he's the kind of justice who has disappointed conservatives before.

"I think I have it down to four people and I think of the four people, I have it down to three or two", Trump told members of the White House press corps traveling with him to Montana. "It's obvious he has made pro-life issues a priority in his administration, their concern is absolutely valid and I'm happy to embrace that", said Mary Kate Knorr, Illinois Right to Life executive director.

As with with Neil Gorsuch, the justice appointed to replace the late Antonin Scalia a year ago, Trump's top candidates are selected from a list of conservative justices first drafted during the 2016 election.

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President George W. Bush, meanwhile, nominated Kavanaugh, of Maryland, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in January 2006.

Given the uncertainty over which party will control the Senate come January, the White House simply can't afford failure in the coming confirmation struggle. Then past year, Senate Democrats filibustered Neil Gorsuch forcing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to change the rules and now Trump's next pick will only require 50 votes to be confirmed. "His record generally shows that he takes these questions seriously, that he makes the effort not to insert his personal views into decisions".

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, 53, a longtime Washington insider, worked for Ken Starr during the Whitewater investigation of President Bill Clinton.

Some have suggested that Kethledge could be another justice in the mold of Trump's first nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Trump needs her vote.

Appointing a justice to the Supreme Court is something most American presidents are lucky enough to do once or twice in an entire presidency.

"If Democrats tried to go anti-Catholic with her, that'd backfire and we know it", said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.). Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Like Donnelly, she also met with Trump after Kennedy's retirement, where they discussed the court vacancy, which was right after Trump railed against her during a rally in North Dakota with her challenger, Rep. Kevin Cramer.