Trump moving fast on US Supreme Court, nominee seen by July 10

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he plans to announce his nominee for a coming vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court on July 9 and that he has identified five finalists, including two women.

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One en route from Washington to his private golf club in New Jersey, Trump said he may interview two contenders for the nomination this weekend.

He said he will not ask candidates whether they would overturn a 1973 ruling in the Roe v Wade case, which established a woman's right to abortion, nor would he discuss gay rights with them.

The president's nominee must win confirmation by the Senate. Republicans control the chamber but only by a slim majority, making the views of moderates, including some Democrats, important.

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Possible replacements for Supreme Court Justice Kennedy
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Possible replacements for Supreme Court Justice Kennedy

Brett Kavanaugh

(Photo by Dennis Brack/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Thomas Hardiman 

Photo Credit: SCOTUS Blog

Amy Coney Barrett

Photo Credit: University of Notre Dame

Judge Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, who serves on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is seen in this 2017 photo released by Bloomsbury Publishing Inc. in New York, New York, U.S., July 6, 2018.

(Courtesy Bloomsbury/Abdul El-Tayef/WPPi.com for Raymond Kethledge/Handout via REUTERS)

Mike Lee

 Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amul Thapar

Photo Credit: UVA Law

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Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Friday he hoped the confirmation process would be done "in time for the new justice to begin the fall term of the Supreme Court ... the first Monday in October.”

White House aide Marc Short said on MSNBC that the White House hoped for a Senate confirmation vote in September.

That schedule would put a new justice in place before the congressional mid-term elections in November, when all seats in the House of Representatives and a third of those in the Senate will be contested.

Trump met on Thursday with senators from both parties at the White House to discuss the court vacancy created by the retirement of Kennedy, which was announced on Wednesday.

While Kennedy was a conservative, he proved to be a somewhat unpredictable "swing" vote over his long career. For example, he sided with the court's liberals by voting in favor of abortion rights in key cases. That issue was expected to be one that senators will ask the new nominee about in confirmation hearings, even if the president does not.

Kennedy's replacement could cast a deciding vote on limiting or ending the right to abortion.

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Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy
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Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy is seen during a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House April 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day Gorsuch, 49, was sworn in as the 113th Associate Justice in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
Justices of the US Supreme Court sit for their official group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on June 1, 2017. Seated (L-R): Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony M. Kennedy, Chief Justice of the US John G. Roberts, Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer. Standing (L-R): Associate Justices Elena Kagan, Samuel Alito Jr., Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justices Anthony Kennedy and Neil Gorsuch are seen during a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House April 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day Gorsuch, 49, was sworn in as the 113th Associate Justice in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, left, embraces Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy after taking the oath of office during a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, April 10, 2017. U.S. President Donald Trump said Gorsuch is 'deeply faithful to the Constitution' in the beginning of his speech at the start of the ceremony. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy delivers remarks before administering the judicial oath to Judge Neil Gorsuch during a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House April 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day Gorsuch, 49, was sworn in as the 113th Associate Justice in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 28: President Donald Trump greets Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy after addressing a joint session of Congress in the Capitol's House Chamber, February 28, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and John Roberts arrive on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 20: U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy arrives for the funeral of fellow Associate Justice Antonin Scalia at the the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception February 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. Scalia, who died February 13 while on a hunting trip in Texas, layed in repose in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court on Friday and his funeral service will be at the basillica today. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 19: Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan, left, Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr., Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Anthony M. Kennedy react during prayers at a private ceremony in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court where late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia lies in repose on February 19, 2016 in Washington, DC. Justice Scalia will lie in repose in the Great Hall of the high court where visitors will pay their respects. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin - Pool/Getty Images)
US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts (L) and Justices Anthony Kennedy (2nd L), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (C), Stephen Breyer (2nd R) and Sonia Sotomayor listen to US President Barack Obama deliver the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016. Obama gives his final State of the Union address, perhaps the last opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 24: Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, left, and Justice Anthony Kennedy, attend an address by Pope Francis to a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber of the Capitol, September 24, 2015. Francis is the first pope to ever address Congress. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy listens to opening statements during a Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, March 23, 2015. Sprinting toward their spring recess, the House and Senate will separately consider budget blueprints, perhaps leading to the first joint congressional budget in six years. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: U.S. Supreme Court Justices (L-R) John G. Roberts, Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor stand before the State of the Union address by President Barack Obama on January 20, 2015 in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Obama was expected to lay out a broad agenda to address income inequality, making it easier for Americans to afford college education, and child care. (Photo by Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty Images)
U.S. Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer, left, and Anthony Kennedy testify during a Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, March 23, 2015. Sprinting toward their spring recess, the House and Senate will separately consider budget blueprints, perhaps leading to the first joint congressional budget in six years. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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"I do not apply ideological litmus tests to nominees, but I want to see integrity, intellect, a respect for precedent and adherence to the rule of law," moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins told Reuters when asked about Roe v. Wade.

Collins, who favors a woman's right to choose on abortion, joined like-minded Republican Lisa Murkowski at the White House meeting. Also attending were Republican Charles Grassley and Democrats Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp.

Democrat Bill Nelson, asked by reporters if a nominee’s views on Roe v. Wade will be important to him, said, “very."

(Additional reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Bill Berkrot and Cynthia Osterman)

 

 

 

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