President Trump is planning to announce his nominee for Supreme Court justice at 7 p.m. Eastern. Watch the live broadcast below:
Trump is expected to make his selection from four top federal judge candidates: Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett, and Thomas Hardiman.
Who are they?
Brett Kavanaugh, 53, is a long-time federal appeals judge in Washington, D.C., according to Fox News. Justin Walker, writing for the National Review, called Kavanaugh — a Catholic — a “warrior for religious liberty.” However, some conservatives have criticized him for seeming to call abortion a right when commenting on a decision to allow an unaccompanied minor to get an abortion after illegally crossing the border, Religion News Service reported. There’s a debate among conservatives over whether a decision he made in 2011 led to the Supreme Court’s approval of ObamaCare.
Raymond Kethledge, 51, is a Sixth Circuit judge who has been endorsed by conservative radio show host Hugh Hewitt and the Wall Street Journal, according to Politico. He’s an evangelical Christian with an Ivy League education, Religion News Service reported. Writing for The Federalist, Phillip Williamson said Kethledge “fiercely defends religious liberty” and respects the Founding Father’s desire to guarantee religious freedom. Conservative critics have primarily gone after him for not being hard-line enough on immigration, the Daily Wire reported.
Amy Coney Barrett, a 46-year-old wife and mother of seven children, has an extensive list of qualifications for being considered one of the top legal minds in our nation, but the left has been attacking her Roman Catholic faith. They’ve been trying to paint her as “a dangerous religious extremist.” A Seventh Circuit federal judge, Barrett is a conservative Constitutional originalist who has been endorsed by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and praised by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Criticism of her has mainly centered around her only having a year’s worth of experience as a federal judge.
Thomas Hardiman, 53, is a Third Circuit federal judge who is a devout Catholic and has gained the approval of gun rights advocates for standing up for handgun owners in New Jersey, Politico reported. Hardiman rose from working-class taxi driver to judge, an inspirational story that many think helped him catch Trump’s eye, according to Cleveland.com. His conservative critics say he’s too soft on illegal immigration, isn’t a Constitutional originalist, and is liked by too many Democrats.
What happens next?
The nominee will next go in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee for a few days. There the nominee will talk about why they are qualified and answer the committee’s questions.
Then, the committee will send the nominee off to the Senate with their favorable, unfavorable, or — in the case of Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991 — neutral recommendation. Historically, they’ve given a favorable recommendation in almost every case.
The committee is made up of 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats. The ranking Republican is Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and the ranking Democrat is Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
After the committee recommendation, the Senate will vote on whether to confirm the nominee. They only need a simple majority of 51 votes. The Senate is made up of 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats.
The big question is if every one of the anti-Trump or centrist Republicans will side with Trump’s nominee. If only one votes “no” and there’s a tie, Vice President Mike Pence will cast the deciding vote.
Another factor is the Democrats, who are expected to put up a huge fight and use every trick and tactic they can think up in order to block Trump’s nominee.