WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump spoke with three more potential Supreme Court candidates on Tuesday as a key senator privately aired concerns about one of the contenders.
That follows four Trump interviews with judicial candidates a day earlier, as well as a conversation with Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who is not regarded as a top contender. An administration official said Trump had spoken to seven candidates in total.
“These are very talented people, brilliant people,” Trump said during an appearance in West Virginia. “We’re going to give you a great one.”
With trademark flair, Trump has said he’ll announce his pick to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on Monday, choosing from a list of 25 candidates vetted by conservative groups. Top contenders include federal appeals Judges Raymond Kethledge, Amul Thapar, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
Trump has also been consulting with lawmakers — including Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who has expressed reservations about Kavanaugh’s candidacy, according to a person familiar with the call.
Paul has told colleagues that he wouldn’t vote in favor of Kavanaugh if the judge is nominated, citing Kavanaugh’s role during the Bush administration on cases involving executive privilege and the disclosure of documents to Congress.
Trump’s choice to replace Kennedy — a swing vote on the nine-member court — has the potential to be part of precedent-shattering court decisions on abortion, health care, gay marriage and other issues.
On Monday, Trump interviewed Kethledge, Thapar, Kavanaugh and Barrett, according to a person with knowledge of the meetings who was not authorized to speak publicly about them.
The White House did not disclose Trump’s additional conversations, but two other names considered top contenders are Thomas Hardiman, who has served with Trump’s sister, now on senior inactive status, on the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia; and Joan Larsen, who serves on the federal appeals court in Cincinnati and previously served as a Michigan Supreme Court Justice.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has said she would oppose any nominee she believed would overturn Roe v. Wade, stressing she wants to back a judge who would show respect for settled law such as the Roe decision.
In a new poll, U.S. men and women agree by a two-to-one margin with the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision to strike down state laws restricting access to abortion.
Sixty-one percent of men and 65 percent of women agree with Kennedy and the court’s 1973 decision to limit restrictive state abortion laws to the third trimester of pregnancy, according to voters sampled for a Quinnipiac University poll.
Pollsters surveyed 1,020 voters nationwide between June 27 and July 1 via live phone interviews. The survey has a margin of error of plus of minus 3.7 percentage points, CQ Roll Call reported.
Most Democrats (84 percent) and Independents (68 percent) said they agree with the landmark decision. Just 36 percent of Republicans said they are in favor of Roe v. Wade, while 58 percent said they oppose it.