Watch: President Trump Unveils His SCOTUS Pick

Update: The White House managed to keep President Trump’s pick a secret until roughly 8 minutes before the President’s planned announcement, when NBC News reported that Trump will nominate circuit court judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.

But as this White House has showed us in the past, it’s not over until Trump says it’s over.

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President Trump is set to announce his nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy at 9 pm ET Monday. After successfully nominating Justice Neil Gorsuch last April, the nominee will be Trump’s second SCOTUS pick during his roughly 18 months in office.

Watch the announcement live below:

According to CBS, Politico and several other US media outlets, Trump has narrowed his pick to four candidates, all of whom are federal judges. The frontrunner is Brett Kavanaugh, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for Washington DC. But Kavanaugh’s ties to George W Bush have angered some social conservatives, who have mounted a last-minute campaign to persuade Trump to go with another candidate. The other candidates are Amy Coney Barrett, a circuit judge with the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Raymond Kethledge, a circuit judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and reputed dark horse Thomas Hardiman, the US circuit judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Hardiman, who lost out to Gorsuch last year, was rumored to have fallen out of the running. But on Sunday rumors surfaced that he was back in the running.

Following an NBC report that Barrett was spotted at her home in Indiana, the “smart money” has effectively put her out of the running. The odds now heavily favor Kavanaugh, who has been consistently ranked as the frontrunner:

Some bettors are still placing long-shot bets on former Obama nominee Merrick Garland. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly pressed Trump to choose Garland during a phone call last week.


Read more about the candidates below:

Kavanaugh (Independent):

Mr Kavanaugh, 53, is a Yale Law School graduate who previously served as a law clerk to Mr Kennedy. He currently serves on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, where he has authored more than 280 opinions – most of which have a distinctly conservative bent. Last year, Mr Kavanugh ruled to prevent a teenager in immigrant detention from getting an abortion. When the ruling was later overturned by the full court, he claimed the decision would give immigrant minors to a right to “immediate abortion on demand”. The judge has also frequently ruled against Obama-era environmental regulations, and said he would like to strike down Washington DC’s ban on certain semi-automatic long guns. Despite his record of conservative opinions, some at the White House are wary of Mr Kavanaugh’s ties to former President George W Bush, with whom Mr Trump maintains a contentious relationship. Mr Kavanagh was involved in the Florida vote recount that won Mr Bush the 2000 election, and later served as his counsel and staff secretary. Mr Kavanaugh also has a history with another past US president: Bill Clinton. In 1998, the future judge co-wrote an impeachment report on Mr Clinton with special counsel Kenneth Starr. In the report, he argues for a broad definition of obstruction of justice – a crime for which special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating Mr Trump.

Barrett (Independent):

Ms Barrett, 46, is the only woman among Mr Trump’s top picks, and the only contender not to have clerked for Mr Kennedy. Instead, the Notre Dame law school graduate clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia before serving as an associate at an international law firm. Ms Barrett has spent most of her career as a law professor at Notre Dame, where she worked for 15 years before Mr Trump appointed her to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017. Detractors are reportedly concerned about Ms Barrett’s lack of experience on the bench, but conservative supporters are backing her as the only truly conservative pick. Ms Barrett, a devout Catholic, has previously expressed her personal belief that life begins at conception, and was a member of pro-life groups while teaching at Notre Dame. She has also suggested that the Court should be more “flexible” in overturning past decisions – something opponents fear means she is open to overturning Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal across the country.

Kethledge (Independent):

Mr Kethledge, 51, also has ties to former President George W Bush: The president nominated him to his current role on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006. From there, Mr Kethledge handed down a series of decisions that earned him the ire of many pro-choice and social justice groups. In 2014, the University of Michigan Law School law school graduate argued that employers should be allowed to run credit card checks on job applicants – something the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission argued was racial discrimination. In a 2017 discrimination case against the US Border Patrol, Mr Kethledge accepted agents’ claims that they used slurs like “wets” and “tonks” to refer specifically to undocumented immigrants, not to Hispanics in general. In a 2011 rape case, he argued that the victim’s sexual history with the defendant should have been allowed in court.

Hardiman (courtesy of Politico):

Judge Thomas Hardiman, 53, is one of President Donald Trump’s finalists to fill the Supreme Court seat being vacated by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. A judge on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Hardiman emerged late as a contender for the seat, joining judges Brett Kavanugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Raymond Kethledge. Hardiman was appointed to the 3rd Circuit by President George W. Bush in 2007, after serving nearly four years on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Hardiman — who was the runner-up to Justice Neil Gorsuch during Trump’s first Supreme Court search — has served alongside Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, on the 3rd Circuit. A native of Massachusetts, Hardiman worked as taxi driver as a student and was the first in his family to graduate from college – giving him a type of up-by-the-bootstraps tale that appeals to the anti-establishment Trump. Hardiman graduated from the University of Notre Dame and Georgetown University Law Center. He worked in private practice in Washington and Pittsburgh from his graduation from law school in 1990 until joining the bench in 2003.

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Whatever Trump decides, the White House announced Monday that former Republican Sen. Jon Kyl has agreed to serve as the sherpa for the president’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Kyl, who left the Senate in 2013 and was previously the No. 2 Republican, was previously a member of the Judiciary Committee, where he participated in four of the last five confirmation battles.

While lawmakers are bracing for a bruising nomination battle, the battle of the interest groups has already begun, with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blasting President Trump for consulting with conservative groups like the Federalist Society and its leader, Leonard Leo, and ignoring Democrats in Congress.

“Mr. Leonard Leo is the man who assembled Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees and no one, no one, has been more dedicated to overturning Roe v. Wade than Leonard Leo,” Schumer said.


“Now normally in the Senate, we have a process of advising consent on the Supreme Court,” Schumer said,

“In the old days, the president would consult with Republicans and Democrats in the Senate on a qualified judge and then after careful deliberation nominate a jurist to get bipartisan support.

What we have here is the exact opposite…the president has gone to two hard right groups, the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society, and asked them, not the Senate, to advise and consent on a Supreme Court nomination.”

And liberal pro-choice groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America have already launched a campaign to pressure red-state Democrats and moderate Republicans to oppose Trump’s pick. Four red-state Democratic senators – West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly and Alabama’s Doug Jones – were invited to the White House for Trump’s announcement, but all four declined the invitation.

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Author: Tyler Durden

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