Published: Wed, July 04, 2018
Research | By Francis Brooks

Trump's Supreme Court search begins, with youth a key factor

Trump's Supreme Court search begins, with youth a key factor

After announcing the Supreme Court pick, Trump is scheduled to travel to Europe, where he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16.

At the same time, supporting Trump's nominee could bring its own political peril for Democrats - and the two Republicans - whose votes could be seen as the ones that could tip the 4-4 split on the court after Kennedy's departure toward conservatives for a generation to come.

His retirement, which takes effect on 31 July, gives Mr Trump a second Supreme Court appointment in his 17 months in office after he selected Neil Gorsuch past year, who has already become one of the most conservative justices. The future of Kennedy's seat has been a moment abortion rights opponents and supporters alike have been anticipating for years because Kennedy historically sided with the liberals on the court in favor of protecting abortion rights. On Friday, Trump reassured reporters that he would discuss United States interests in the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, and would certainly raise the issue of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

"We have to pick a great one". Two of the finalists are women, Trump said, adding he may interview one or two of the candidates over the weekend.

He did not explicitly set a precedent for refusing to consider court nominees in all election years, as Democrats say now.

The issue is at the forefront of the emerging nomination fight because the nine-member court has been so closely divided on abortion, and Kennedy has been a crucial fifth vote.

The party's long-term strategy to focus on the Supreme Court - highlighted by an audacious decision not to allow a vote in 2016 on President Barack Obama's judicial pick - culminated this week with a series of conservative rulings and another vacancy.

FILE PHOTO: Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy speaks during a swearing in ceremony for Judge Neil Gorsuch as an associate justice of the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, U.S., April 10, 2017. In 2016, fully 81 percent of self-identified white, evangelical Christians told exit pollsters they voted for Trump - while just 16 percent went for Clinton.

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Brett Kavanaugh, a 53-year-old US Circuit judge, is widely reported to be the front-runner.

So who will benefit most from the debate over Justice Kennedy's retirement?

"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice".

Conservative activists have long dreamed of building a firmly conservative majority on the court that would push to overturn the landmark 1973 ruling in the case Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.

"Democrats want judges who will rewrite the Constitution any way they can do it, and take away your Second Amendment, erase your borders, throw open your jailhouse doors and destroy your freedoms", Trump said.

Trump won West Virginia by 42 percentage points in the 2016 election, North Dakota by 36 percentage points and in by more than 19 percentage points.

Those victories, coupled with Kennedy's retirement, could embolden the administration's lawyers, who are facing legal challenges on multiple fronts, including over Trump's move to separate families who enter the United States illegally and his plan to rescind protections for "Dreamers", young adults brought to he country illegally as children.

The president and Senate Republicans are moving quickly to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, despite protests from Democrats.

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