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Trump Narrows His Search for a Supreme Court Candidate to Three Finalists
01/26/2017 Supreme Court Lesley F
keywords: Nominees

President Donald Trump's search for his first nominee to the Supreme Court has been narrowed to three finalists: 3rd Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman10th Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch and 11th Circuit Judge Bill Pryor. Trump's choice will fill the seat left vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia's death last year.

According to sources close to the process, Trump has already interviewed all three finalists during his transition period, and Gorsuch and Hardiman appear to be the current front-runners. On Tuesday, Trump indicated that he would announce his nominee next week and invited Senate leadership to the White House to discuss the choice.

Leonard Leo, an adviser to Trump on his Supreme Court pick and a top-ranking member of the Federalist Society, stated that "the president wants to move as quickly as he can" with the nomination process. Leo went on to praise Hardiman and Gorsuch, offering no comments on Pryor.

While Pryor had previously been considered a front-runner, recent controversy has arisen surrounding the George W. Bush judicial appointee's decision to join in the majority opinion in Glenn v. Brumby, a 2011 ruling that offers protection to transgendered employees from workplace discrimination. Many conservative legal scholars and political figures are displeased with Pryor's decision in Glenn, while liberal senators are likely to form a strong opposition to Pryor due to his public assertion that Roe v. Wade stands as "the worst abomination of constitutional law." However, attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions is a longtime friend of Pryor and is reportedly advocating strongly for his nomination.

On the other hand, Gorsuch has many vocal supporters. One former Republican official noted that "his analysis is tremendous" and "that's the sort of thing that has an impact on the court."

Senior officials in the Trump administration have stated that his Supreme Court pick is a high priority in the President's first weeks in office. On Tuesday, Trump met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and the Judiciary Committee's top-ranking Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), to speak about his potential Supreme Court nominee. 

Some Senate Democrats have expressed displeasure with any potential Trump nominee. In early January, Sen. Schumer told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that "it's hard for me to imagine a nominee that Donald Trump would choose that would get Republican support that we could support." According to Leo, however, Trump is not concerned with a potential blockade on his Supreme Court nominee from Democrats.


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