Trump 'very close' to decision on Supreme Court pick

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Two candidates on President Donald Trump's list of potential Supreme Court nominees - federal appeals court Judges Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett - were singled out for praise Sunday by a top legal adviser to the president, indicating they remain prominent in the search. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

While the President's choice of Gorsuch to replace Scalia ensured the iconic conservative justice was replaced with another person highly regarded by conservatives, the vacancy created by Kennedy has given Trump the opportunity to replace a frequent swing vote with a conservative name. None is older than 53, meaning they could sit on the court for decades, allowing Trump to make a lasting imprint on the nation's laws.

Trump's success in confirming conservative judges, as well as a Supreme Court justice, has cheered Republicans amid concerns about his limited policy achievements and chaotic management style. Unlike the current Justices, Hardiman doesn't have an Ivy League law degree - a fact Trump said on the 2016 presidential campaign trail was a positive factor for a potential nominee if he became President.

If the nomination is delayed and Democrats capture an extra seat in the Senate in November elections, Trump could be forced to compromise with liberals in order to fill Kennedy's seat.

Trump has moved quickly to make a nomination while Republicans hold a bare majority in the Senate, which needs to approve the appointment.

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Former Sen. Jon Kyl will guide President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee through the Senate confirmation process.

Kyl, a former member of Republican leadership, served on the Senate Judiciary Committee before retiring in 2013. He works for Washington-based lobbying firm Covington & Burling. He expressed renewed interest in Hardiman - the runner-up when Trump nominated Gorsuch, said two people with knowledge of his thinking who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Trump has reportedly narrowed the pool of candidates to four federal appeals court judges.

Trump's selection will set up a confirmation showdown in the U.S. Senate, where his fellow Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority, though with ailing Senator John McCain battling cancer in his home state of Arizona they now can muster only 50 votes. Kelly Ayotte served as the "sherpa" for Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017.

While the president has been pondering his pick, aides have been preparing for a tough confirmation fight.

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"Hardiman was fully vetted last time, and flawless record, too", a source outside but close to the White House told NPR.

They include Judge Raymond Kethledge, 51, who sits on the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals, who would puncture the Ivy League aura that cloaks the Supreme Court since he studied law at the University of MI and not Harvard or Yale.

Barrett - a longtime Notre Dame Law School professor who became a federal judge last fall - excited social conservatives since she was questioned about her Roman Catholic faith in her nomination hearings previous year, but her brief time on the bench has raised questions about her experience.

Barrett of IN, 46, serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

"I'm very confident with this president's enthusiasm and with Leader McConnell's enthusiasm that they can get anybody confirmed", Mr. Leo said on ABC's "This Week".

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