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September 27, 2020

Trump's Supreme Court picks - Tip News

Trump's Supreme Court picks

Trump's Supreme Court picks
'US Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh, left, is among President Donald Trump's top picks to fill an empty Supreme Court seat' - By: AFP/File PAUL J. RICHARDS

President Donald Trump spent part of the week meeting senior conservative judges as he weighs his choice to fill a critical seat that could decidedly swing the Supreme Court to the right for decades to come.

Here are a few of Trump's favorites ahead of his expected announcement Monday:

- Brett Kavanaugh, a George W. Bush loyalist -

A judge of the US Court of Appeals in Washington, which hears some of the nation's most sensitive cases, began his career as a clerk to Anthony Kennedy, the justice long considered a critical swing vote who plans to retire at the end of the month.

The Yale University graduate has demonstrated his conservative credentials on numerous occasions, including when he opposed Obamacare, the sweeping universal insurance plan unveiled under Trump's Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

In the 1990s, he led an investigation into the suicide of Bill Clinton aide Vince Foster, who was linked to the Whitewater controversy that began as a probe into the presidential couple's real estate investments.

Kavanaugh later contributed to prosecutor Kenneth Starr's report into Clinton's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

After moving into the White House in 2001, Bush recruited Kavanaugh as legal counsel before later naming him to the appellate court.

In 2012, Kavanaugh was part of a panel that scrapped an Environmental Protection Agency measure aimed at reducing air pollution in the United States.

He recently voiced disagreement with a court decision allowing a teenage unauthorized immigrant to get an abortion.

A practicing Catholic active in various religious organizations, Kavanaugh is a married father of two girls.

- Thomas Hardiman, staunch gun rights supporter -

Thomas Michael Hardiman is a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He maintains chambers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

He was a finalist in 2017 the last time Trump chose a Supreme Court justice, but was passed over for Neil Gorsuch.

For Trump's second opportunity to place a nominee on the court's nine-seat bench and thus give a conservative bent to the court that takes on some of the biggest debates in American society, Hardiman is once again among the favorites.

He gained notoriety with positions like maintaining that the First Amendment of the US Constitution does not allow citizens to film police officers.

A one-time Republican activist, the steadily conservative Hardiman has shared the appellate court bench with Trump's sister Maryanne Trump Barry, who is said to have sung his praises.

In several cases relating to death row inmates, Hardiman aligned himself with prosecutors seeking to apply the death penalty.

He has favored invasive searches of new detainees, even when they are only held for short periods of time and do not pose security risks.

If Trump chooses Hardiman, he would be the only justice without an education from one of America's prestigious Ivy League schools.

The son of a taxi driver, Hardiman spent his childhood in Massachusetts. He was the first in his family to attend university, and financed his studies at Georgetown Law by driving a cab.

- Amy Coney Barrett, religion defender -

At 46, she would also become the youngest justices of the highest court in the land if named and confirmed. She would also be the top court's only conservative female justice, the other three women on the bench being liberal.

She grew up in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie. After studying at a girl's Catholic school in Louisiana, she attended a Presbyterian school in Tennessee before attending Notre Dame law school in Indiana.

Barrett was a clerk to Antonin Scalia, a longtime conservative stalwart on the Supreme Court who died in February 2016.

Critics accuse her of being too heavily influenced by her Catholic beliefs.

- Raymond Kethledge, guardian of the Constitution -

Kethledge, 51, has also served as clerk to Kennedy. He grew up in the Great Lakes region of Michigan, where he serves as circuit judge of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit after being nominated by George W. Bush in 2006.

A staunch defender of free enterprise and individual rights -- including private property and the right to bear arms -- his writings have been hailed by the conservative Federalist Society, which picked potential high court candidates for the White House.

Kethledge is seen as supporting originalism, an interpretation of the Constitution along the lines of its meaning at the time of enactment.