Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced on Wednesday that he would retire from the Supreme Court. His vacancy sets up a showdown for a replacement that could change the direction of the highest court in the United States.
President Trump said he intends to choose his next Supreme Court nominee from a list he began compiling during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“I think you see the kind of quality that we’re looking at when you look at that list,” Mr. Trump said Wednesday in the Oval Office.
He added, “So it will be somebody from that list.”
Here is a look at some early front-runners for the job, and the full list of 25 potential nominees, as released by the White House in November.
Thomas M. Hardiman, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
President Trump considered Judge Hardiman last year for the seat that was ultimately filled by Justice Neil M. Gorsuch. Judge Hardiman was first appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush in 2003 and was elevated to the appeals court four years later. He has built a reputation as a reliable conservative on the court, where he has served alongside Mr. Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, who is said to have recommended Mr. Hardiman for the Supreme Court vacancy last year. One opinion that could resonate with Mr. Trump: Judge Hardiman signed on to a decision declaring that asylum seekers could not ask a Federal District Court to prevent or postpone their deportation while challenging their removal orders.
William H. Pryor Jr., United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
Judge Pryor was viewed as a finalist for last year’s vacant seat on the court. He has called Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion, as “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.” He is close with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and, like Mr. Sessions, is an outspoken conservative who has strongly opposed gay rights.
Amul R. Thapar, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Judge Thapar was confirmed to the appeals court last year and previously served as a judge on the Federal District Court in eastern Kentucky. The son of Indian-American immigrants, the White House said he was the first federal court judge of South Asian descent. Judge Thapar was among those considered by Mr. Trump for last year’s Supreme Court vacancy. “I’m my own judge and I hope my track record speaks to that,” he told senators last year.
Brett M. Kavanaugh, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Even before Justice Gorsuch was confirmed, White House officials were already signaling their interest in Judge Kavanaugh for a future opening on the Supreme Court, should it occur. Mr. Trump did not include Judge Kavanaugh on his original list of potential nominees, but added him to a revised list released last fall. A former prosecutor under the independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, Judge Kavanaugh was appointed to the court by President George W. Bush in 2006 and had a difficult road to confirmation. As a White House adviser, he helped Mr. Bush fill the nation’s courts with conservatives. “Mr. Kavanaugh would probably win first prize as the hard right’s political lawyer,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, said at the time.
Joan L. Larsen, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
A former Michigan state Supreme Court justice, Judge Larsen was confirmed last year to the federal bench. During her confirmation process, she was criticized by civil rights groups for her past rulings and writings on gay rights. Judge Larsen clerked for former Justice Antonin Scalia and has praised his by-the-letter reading of the Constitution and the law. A former law professor at the University of Michigan, Judge Larsen said at her confirmation hearing last year that she would be an independent-minded jurist. “If someone believes I’ve passed some litmus test, I honestly don’t know how they came to that conclusion,” she said.
Amy Coney Barrett, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Judge Barrett became something of a hero to religious conservatives last year when Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, questioned what influence the jurist’s Roman Catholic faith would have on her rulings from the bench. She was questioned in particular about a 1998 article in which she argued that Catholic judges should sometimes recuse themselves from sentencing in death penalty cases. At her confirmation hearing, she backed away from that position. A former law clerk to Justice Scalia, she served for 15 years as a law professor at the University of Notre Dame.
Issued Nov. 17, 2017 by the White House
Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Keith Blackwell of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia
Charles Canady of Florida, Supreme Court of Florida
Steven Colloton of Iowa, United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Allison Eid of Colorado, United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit
Britt Grant of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia
Raymond Gruender of Missouri, United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Thomas M. Hardiman of Pennsylvania, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Brett M. Kavanaugh of Maryland, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Joan L. Larsen of Michigan, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Mike Lee of Utah, United States senator
Thomas Lee of Utah, Supreme Court of Utah
Edward Mansfield of Iowa, Supreme Court of Iowa
Federico Moreno of Florida, United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
Kevin Newsom of Alabama, United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
William Pryor of Alabama, United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
Margaret Ryan of Virginia, United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
David Stras of Minnesota, United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Diane Sykes of Wisconsin, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Amul Thapar of Kentucky, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Timothy Tymkovich of Colorado, United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit
Robert Young of Michigan, Supreme Court of Michigan (retired)
Don Willett of Texas, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Patrick Wyrick of Oklahoma, Supreme Court of Oklahoma
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