WASHINGTON, June 29 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump may nominate a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy before July 10, when Trump is scheduled to depart for a trip to Europe, a White House official said on Friday.
The vacancy on the Supreme Court, due to Kennedy's retirement, will allow Trump to make his second appointment of a Supreme Court justice and deepen the conservative imprint he has already made on the nation's highest court.
Trump has said he will select a nominee from a list of 25 conservative contenders.
The Supreme Court nomination will set up another U.S. Senate confirmation showdown in an election year, with all seats in the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate up for grabs. Republicans now hold majorities in both congressional chambers.
Kennedy had been the swing vote on the deeply divided court. While he voted with conservatives on most cases, on several contentious social issues, such as abortion and gay rights, he sided with court's liberals.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said there would be a vote on a Trump nominee in the fall.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it would be hypocritical to move forward on a Trump nomination during an election year after the Senate refused to act on former Democratic President Barack Obama's selection, Merrick Garland, to fill an empty top court seat before the 2016 election. (Reporting by Steve Holland Writing by Makini Brice Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh)