Trump Has Reportedly Narrowed His Supreme Court List to 3 Finalists. Here’s What to Know About Them
President Trump has promised to announce his nominee to fill Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s vacated seat by Monday, June 9.
With the deadline fast approaching, Trump has reportedly whittled his 25-name list down to a shortlist of three: appeals court judges Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, and Amy Coney Barrett.
Here’s what to know about each of the candidates.
Brett Kavanaugh, 53, currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. He has two Yale degrees and first rose to prominence for his involvement in the investigation led by Ken Starr into then-President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. He co-wrote part of the Starr Report, which made the case for Clinton’s impeachment.
Since then, Kavanaugh has worked in the George W. Bush (43) administration, helping him in the Florida recount, as well as at the Justice Department. He has served as a law clerk to outgoing Justice Kennedy, and to two other appellate judges.
On the issues, while Kavanaugh has certainly stood for many conservative causes, some have voiced concern that he isn’t reliably conservative enough. During his D.C. Circuit confirmation hearing, he told Senators that he would respect precedent on abortion and failed to disclose his personal views on Roe v. Wade. And two of Kavanaugh’s opinions upheld Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Nevertheless, Kavanaugh has also deemed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unconstitutional, and has supported pulling back on EPA regulations imposed during the Obama administration, reports Vox.
Raymond Kethledge, 51, also formerly worked as a law clerk to Justice Kennedy and has served on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals since 2008, after being nominated by President George W. Bush.
Before that, Kethledge was counsel to then-Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.), who was on the Senate Judiciary Committee. While Abraham was a founder of the conservative Federalist Society, he was also pro-immigration and an Arab-American.
While his stance on hot-button issues like abortion or gay rights are not clearly delineated, Kethledge wrote an opinion in 2014 that upheld private employers’ ability to use credit checks to screen potential employees, striking down an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit.
Some have suggested that Kethledge could be another justice in the mold of Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
Amy Coney Barrett
Amy Coney Barrett, 46, is a former law clerk to Scalia and was appointed to serve on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals by Trump last year. If Trump chooses her and she is confirmed, she would be the youngest justice on the Supreme Court.
Of the three, Barrett might have the most controversial credentials. Her nomination to the 7th Circuit drew questions from many Democrats, and ultimately only three Democrats voted in favor of her confirmation.
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 worried this would influence her political opinions.
On abortion, Barrett has said that she believes life begins at conception, and has also criticized Roe v. Wade. She has further argued that the birth control benefit in the Affordable Care Act impinges on religious liberty.
But while she has said that some cases like Roe v. Wade need not stand as precedents if a future court deems it to be wrongly decided, she has generally suggested that Roe v. Wade is in fact settled law.
Despite Trump’s suspicion of anyone with closely-held ties to the Bush family, he has suggested that he wants a nominee with degrees from an Ivy League like Harvard or Yale. In that context, Kavanaugh has emerged as Trump’s top pick, according to CNBC.