Trump meets with US Supreme Court contenders, two in focus

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, July 2 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he met with four potential Supreme Court justices on Monday morning, while a person familiar with the selection process said Trump was focused most keenly on two people, although others were still in contention.

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Trump told reporters at the White House that he will meet with two or three more candidates and decide on a nominee in the next few days. He was expected to name his choice in a week for a successor to retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

With a second Supreme Court pick less than 18 months into his presidency, Trump is poised to cement conservative control of the court and fire up supporters eager for a rightward shift on divisive social issues like abortion and gay rights.

Trump'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.

6 PHOTOS
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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Federal appeals court judges Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett have gained the most interest from Trump and his team since Kennedy last week announced his retirement, said the person familiar with the selection process.

"There is keen interest in those two, but there are at least a couple of others who are still very seriously in the mix," said the person.

Kavanaugh is a judge on the District of Columbia U.S. Court of Appeals. Barrett was named by Trump to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The other top potential nominees are Thomas Hardiman, who serves on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Raymond Kethledge of the Cincinnati, Ohio-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Amul Thapar, whom Trump named to the 6th Circuit.

White House Counsel Don McGahn will oversee Trump's selection process, the White House said on Monday.

McGahn held the same role for the process that led to Trump's selection of Neil Gorsuch, who has become one of the most conservative justices on the court.

SEE ALSO: Trump may nominate Supreme Court pick before July 10, White House official says

"Teams of attorneys from the White House Counsel’s Office and Department of Justice are working to ensure the president has all the information he needs to choose his nominee," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

9 PHOTOS
Supreme Court Justices
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Supreme Court Justices

John Roberts, Chief Justice

Born: 1955

Joined Supreme Court: 2005

Appointed by: George W. Bush

Votes: Conservative

US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is followed by Elena Kagan on her way to take the Judicial Oath to become the 112th US Supreme Court justice, in Washington on August 7, 2010. (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Born: 1933

Joined Supreme Court: 1993

Appointed by: Bill Clinton

Votes: Liberal

(Photo by Dennis Brack/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Anthony Kennedy

Born: 1936

Joined Supreme Court: 1988

Appointed by: Ronald Reagan

Votes: Conservative/Center

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy listens to opening statements during a Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee in Washington, D.C. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Clarence Thomas

Born: 1948

Joined Supreme Court: 1991

Appointed by: George H.W. Bush

Votes: Conservative

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas testifies during a hearing before the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee April 15, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Stephen Breyer

Born: 1938

Joined Supreme Court: 1994

Appointed by: Bill Clinton

Votes: Liberal/Center

United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer speaks at the Harvard University Institute of Politics John F. Kennedy School of Government John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum on November 6, 2015 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

Samuel Alito

Born: 1950

Joined Supreme Court: 2006

Appointed by: George W. Bush

Votes: Conservative

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito speaks during the Georgetown University Law Center's third annual Dean's Lecture to the Graduating Class in the Hart Auditorium in McDonough Hall February 23, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Sonia Sotomayor

Born: 1954

Joined Supreme Court: 2009

Appointed by: Barack Obama

Votes: Liberal

Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States Sonia Sotomayor discusses her book 'My Beloved World' presented in association with Books and Books at Bank United Center on February 1, 2013 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Vallery Jean/FilmMagic)

Elena Kagan

Born: 1960

Joined Supreme Court: 2010

Appointed by: Barack Obama

Votes: Liberal

Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Elena Kagan speaks onstage at the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit on October 16, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for FORTUNE)
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch participates in taking a new family photo with his fellow justices at the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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(Reporting by Jeff Mason in Washington and Andrew Chung in New York; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Lisa Shumaker)

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