President Trump has promised to announce his nominee to fill Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's vacated seat by Monday, June 9.
Following Kennedy's announcement, Trump acknowledged again that after a new justice is seated, a woman's right to access an abortion could fall to states to determine. To learn a bit more about who's on the shortlist, we turn to David Lat.
WERTHEIMER: So who's still in contention? He has served as a law clerk to outgoing Justice Kennedy, and to two other appellate judges.
WERTHEIMER: And we don't really know which ones he prefers yet or which are - but let's start with Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Roughly 300 opinions in 12 years as a judge and a raft of legal articles and speaking engagements make Kavanaugh the most prolific of the prospective nominees. So with his background, with his credentials - he's a former clerk to Justice Kennedy. Kethledge attended the University of MI for both undergraduate and law school. He is, in many ways, a very appealing candidate.
Thapar's supporters say this is a chance for President Trump to make history.
The president has also spoken via phone with Utah Sen.
But Barrett's recent ascension to the appeals court means she does not have the long, conservative record that lawmakers on the right find reassuring.
Kethledge, 51, is a Wayne State University law school grad who was originally appointed by George W. Bush. And she's quite conservative and Catholic.
Many of these questions surrounded Barrett's Catholic faith-she is a member of a Catholic revivalist group called "People of Praise," in which members swear an oath of loyalty and give each other input on personal life decisions-and some anxious this would influence her political opinions. And this, of course, was viewed by many as anti-Catholic, anti-religious. Kennedy was often a swing vote on the court, sometimes siding with the court's conservatives and, at others, with the court's liberals. That is notable for a court with six Catholics and three Jewish justices. What about Barrett and Kavanaugh? But right behind them is Kethledge and Hardiman - Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman.
The Democrats' second big mistake was using the "nuclear option" to pack the federal circuit courts with liberal judges. Kethledge upheld rapist and murderer Marvin Gabrion's death penalty which Gabrion's lawyers sought to overturn in part based on Michigan's lack of a death penalty. He's been on that court for about a decade. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has told colleagues he might not vote for Kavanaugh because of the judge's role during the Bush administration on cases involving executive privilege and the disclosure of documents to Congress.
"He looks, walks and quacks like John G. Roberts Jr.", said former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli II, referencing the chief justice of the United States, who angered conservatives with his rulings on President Barack Obama's signature health-care law. He, in some ways, could be nearly like a lower risk - you could argue for conservatives a lower award perhaps than Judge Kavanaugh, in the sense that he doesn't have as much in his background that would be quite as controversial. While Abraham was a founder of the conservative Federalist Society, he was also pro-immigration and an Arab-American. He was a trial court judge before he joined the appeals court.
"Too much is at stake to allow politics to corrupt the Supreme Court confirmation process", Hatch wrote.
WERTHEIMER: OK. Who's your pick?
Pence met with Kethledge and Coney Barrett while in IN earlier this week, then sat down with Kavanaugh in Washington on Wednesday.
Although Cruz has depicted his championing of Lee as being motivated primarily by ideology, it may not hurt that the two of them are also good friends. And it's quite possible the president has made a decision and then will change his mind at the last minute.
"I'm anxious about the future of women" if an anti-abortion nominee is confirmed, says Christine Leeper, a content provider for bloggers and one of the younger people at the event.