Posted: Friday, June 29, 2018 – 4:53 PM
(AFP) President Donald Trump said Friday he will announce his nominee to be the next US Supreme Court justice on July 9, a decision with momentous implications for the country’s future.
“I’ve got it narrowed to about five” candidates, including two women, Trump told reporters traveling with him on Air Force One as he headed to New Jersey.
“I like them all,” Trump said.
A slot on the nine-member bench opened with the announced retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who for years has served as the tie-breaking vote between the bench’s liberal and conservative judges.
In nominating his successor Trump has the opportunity to shift the high court decisively to the right.
Experts and lawmakers alike have said the fate of women’s reproductive rights in the United States might be at stake, with a conservative new justice potentially providing enough support to overturn the landmark 1973 court decision upholding abortion rights.
But Trump said he would not directly probe the candidates about their position on the Roe v. Wade decision.
“I’m not going to ask them that question,” Trump said.
During the 2016 presidential campaign Trump said he would seek to place a “pro-life justice on the court.”
Three women currently serve on the bench: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. All were appointed by Democratic presidents.
A fourth woman on the court would be a US record.
Trump has said he will pick Kennedy’s successor from a list of 25 people.
He said one or two court prospects would likely come to his club in Bedminster, in New Jersey “just for an interview” over the weekend, and that he anticipated interviewing “six or seven” candidates altogether.
Kennedy’s retirement announcement Wednesday provided Trump with an opportunity to place a second justice on the all-important court. His first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed by the US Senate last year.
Should Trump announce his pick as advertised on July 9, it would mark just 13 days since Kennedy’s announcement.
By contrast, then-president Barack Obama took just over a month after the February 2016 death of conservative justice Antonin Scalia to nominate a replacement, Merrick Garland.
A confirmation vote for Garland was never held, as the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell determined it was too soon before the presidential election.
© Agence France-Presse