On Monday at 9 p.m. eastern standard time, President Trump *will announce who he has chosen as his next Supreme Court Justice nominee. If confirmed the nominee will replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
As of Sunday morning it appeared that only three named were the most likely to be considered, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Judge Raymond Kethledge, and Amy Coney Barrett, but as President Trump was returning to Washington, having spent the weekend in New Jersey, he told reporters via the Washington Post, “I’m very close to making a decision. Have not made it official yet. Have not made it final. It’s still — let’s say it’s the four people. But they’re excellent. Every one. You can’t go wrong.” The popular opinion of that fourth name is Judge Thomas Hardiman.
U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh, 53
Judge Kavanaugh has the most experience in both issuing opinions and Washington politics. He worked for President George W. Bush for five years in the West Wing. He was nominated to the Court of Appeals by President Bush in 2003, but democrats held confirmation for three years, until he was finally confirmed in May 2006, 57-36. Prior to his work in the West Wing, Judge Kavanaugh worked for Ken Starr, investigating the death of Vince Foster. He also helped write Ken Starr’s finally report that included eleven grounds for impeachment (Washington Post). Judge Kavanaugh has an estimated three-hundred opinions in his twelve years on the bench.
Of Note: In 2009 writing for the Minnesota Law Review Judge Kavanaugh argued that Congress needed to enact a statue “providing that any personal civil suits against presidents, like certain members of the military, be deferred while the President is in office.” He expands and adds that “Congress should consider doing the same, moreover, with respect to criminal investigations and prosecutions of the President. In particular, Congress might consider a law exempting a President—while in office—from criminal prosecution and investigation, including from questioning by criminal prosecutors or defense counsel.”
He notes in the review two possible concerns people might have, with his suggestions, one, no one is above the law, which he says he agrees, he explains that, it’s not ultimately a persuasive criticism of these suggestions, “The point is not to put the President above the law or to eliminate checks on the President, but simply to defer litigation and investigations until the President is out of office.” The second concern is that as a country we need a check against a bad-behaving or law-breaking President, he explains the Consitution already provides that check, “If the President does something dastardly, the impeachment process is available.”
He is considered the front-runner and a favorite of President Trump.
SCOTUSblog for a full bio.
U.S. Court of Appeals 6th circuit Judge Raymond Kethledge, 51
Judge Kethledge was nominated to the Court of Appeals by President George W. Bush in 2006, his nomination stalled and then lapsed when Congress went on Christmas break. President Bush re-nominated Judge Kethledge, and in 2008 he was confirmed by a voice vote, meaning there is no vote total counted.
Unlike Judge Kavanuagh, Judge Kethledge has less opinions written, most notably in 2016 he issued an opinion on a case involving the IRS and Tea Party groups. The IRS was resisting the groups’ effort to obtain documents that contained the names of other targeted groups. The IRS told the group that the IRS was obligated to keep the information confidential.
Judge Kethledge disagreed stating in his written opinion, “does not entitle the IRS to keep secret (in the name of “taxpayer privacy,” no less) every internal IRS document that reveals IRS mistreatment of a taxpayer or applicant organization—in this case or future ones. Section 6103 was enacted to protect taxpayers from the IRS, not the IRS from taxpayers.”
Conservative Hugh Hewitt wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post, urging President Trump to pick Judge Kethledge, calling the Judge, “Gorsuch 2.0.” he also writes that Judge Kethledge has been, “faithful for more than a decade to the originalist approach.”
SCOTUSblog for a full bio
U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, 46
The Judge with the least experience only having served on the Court for eight months, nominated by President Trump and confirmed by a vote of 55-43, she has compiled a small body of opinions.
In 2013 Judge Barrett wrote for the Texas Law Review about the principle honoring Supreme Court precedents, stare decisis (the legal principle of determining points in litigation according to precedent.) She states, “I tend to agree with those who say that a justice’s duty is to the Constitution and that it is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks is clearly in conflict with it.”
During her confirmation hearing last year, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) angered some Catholics by bringing up Barrett’s Catholicism.
Judge Barrett belongs to a group called the “People of Praise.” This group of mostly Catholics, has about 1700 adult members, The Washington Post reported on Saturday. The focus on the group is community, “Single members might choose to live in a house with a family, or live in a house with other single members. Each member has a spiritual guide, called a “head.”
SCOTUSblog for full bio
U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman, 53
It is said that last year when President Trump was searching to replace Anontin Scalia who had passed away in 2016, that he narrowed the list down to two, one was then Judge Neil Gorsuch the second was Judge Hardiman. President Trump went with Neil Gorsuch.
Judge Hardiman was confirmed in 2007 unanimously.
He has issued several opinions weighing in on gun rights, for example, in 2013 before the court was a New Jersey law regulating the issuance of permits to carry handguns in public. Among other things the law required the gun owner to show “justifiable need,” to carry the gun. The Court ruled in favor of the state, Judge Hardiman dissented,”The greatest flaw I perceive in the majority’s opinion, however, is that the longstandingness analysis is conducted at too high a level of generality.” He adds, “This is
“akin to saying that because the government traditionally could prohibit defamation, it can also prohibit speech criticizing government officials.” He concludes, “Because I am convinced that New Jersey’s justifiable need requirement unconstitutionally burdens conduct protected by the Second Amendment as interpreted in Heller and McDonald, I respectfully dissent
SCOTUSblog for full bio
*It might change, he might decide to tweet it or postpone until Tuesday.