Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is leaving the bench July 31 and President Donald Trump said he will choose the 82-year-old judge’s successor early next week, so who could it be?
According to a report from CBS News, there are two “leading contenders” in the president’s mind: Chicago Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett and D.C. Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Both contenders’ names appear on the list the White House generated last fall.
Barrett, 46, gained national attention last October, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) seemingly applied a religious litmus test to her qualification to serve as a federal judge. In a lecture to Barrett, Feinstein told her the “dogma lives loudly” within her, referring to her Catholic faith. That quality, the liberal lawmaker said, is “of concern.”
Barrett quickly became known not only for her religious convictions, but also for her stance on abortion. Over the years, the judge’s writings have indicated she doesn’t believe the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision on Roe v. Wade is undeserving of scrutiny or even legal challenge.
Kavanaugh, Trump’s other serious consideration, according to CBS, first rose to prominence in the 1990s, when he led the investigation into the Whitewater independent counsel’s investigation into the untimely death of Clinton White House counsel Vincent W. Foster, Jr., The Baltimore Sun reported.
Former President George W. Bush appointed Kavanaugh, 53, as a top White House lawyer. Then in 2003, the then-president tapped Kavanaugh to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. While he was eventually appointed, Democrats stalled the nomination process for three years.
His potential position on abortion and Roe v. Wade is not immediately clear.
Trump, for his part, announced in an interview that aired on Fox News over the weekend that he “probably won’t” ask possible Supreme Court nominees about their views on Roe v. Wade.
During interview with @MariaBartiromo, Trump said he "probably" won't ask potential SCOTUS nominees for their position on Roe vs. Wade — "but I'm putting conservative people on."
Adds that abortion rights could become an issue for each state to decide. pic.twitter.com/9yl9UOtEfV
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 1, 2018
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), the only two Republican senators who support abortion rights, have expressed concerns about Roe v. Wade being overturned with Trump’s second Supreme Court nomination.
While Collins described the 1973 decision as “settled” and “precedent,” Trump said on the campaign trail that the abortion ruling could be walked back “automatically” with one or two high court nominations.