Trump to announce U.S. Supreme Court nominee on Tuesday night

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By Ayesha Rascoe and Susan Heavey

<span class="articleLocation”>President Donald Trump said he will announce his
nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday as he looks to
quickly put his stamp on the court by restoring its conservative

Trump said on Monday that he will unveil at the White House
at 8 p.m. on Tuesday (0100 GMT on Wednesday) his pick to fill
the lingering vacancy on the nation’s highest court left by the
death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.

Trump told reporters at the White House he would name “a
person who is unbelievably highly respected. And I think you
will be very impressed with this person.” Trump previously had
said he would make the appointment on Thursday.

Three U.S. appeals court judges appointed to the bench by
Republican former President George W. Bush were among those
under close consideration. They are: Neil Gorsuch, a judge on
the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Thomas
Hardiman, who serves on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals; and William Pryor, a judge on the
Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Since Scalia’s death, the Supreme Court has been
ideologically split with four conservatives and four liberals on
the bench. Another conservative justice could be pivotal in
cases involving abortion, gun, religious and transgender rights,
the death penalty and other contentious matters.

Trump’s appointee to the lifetime post could face stiff
opposition from Democrats in the Republican-led U.S. Senate,
which must confirm nominees to the nation’s highest court.

Democrats remain furious over Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell’s refusal last year to allow the Senate to consider
Democratic President Barack Obama’s nomination of appeals court
Judge Merrick Garland for the vacant seat, an action with little
precedent in U.S. history.

Trump, who took office on Jan. 20, said last week that evangelical Christians “will love my pick.”

Gorsuch, Hardiman and Pryor all possess strong conservative

Gorsuch joined an opinion in 2013 saying that owners of
private companies can object on religious grounds to a provision
of the Obamacare health insurance law requiring employers to
provide coverage for birth control for women.

Gorsuch’s mother headed the Environmental Protection Agency
under Republican President Ronald Reagan before quitting under
pressure in 1983.

Hardiman has embraced a broad interpretation of the U.S.
Constitution’s right to bear arms and has backed the right of
schools to restrict student speech. Gun rights activists are
eager for the Supreme Court to expand on a 2008 ruling that
found for the first time that there is an individual right to
bear arms for self-defense in the home.


Pryor has been an outspoken critic of the court’s 1973
landmark Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion, calling it “the
worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.”
Conservatives are hoping the high court will back restrictions
imposed on the procedure by some Republican-governed states.

Last year, the Supreme Court issued its strongest
endorsement of abortion rights in more than two decades,
striking down a Texas abortion law imposing strict regulations
on doctors and facilities in a 5-3 ruling.

Conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the court’s four
liberals in that ruling. That means that it may take more than
one Trump appointee to change the court’s approach in abortion
rulings. But Trump may get more than one appointment to the
court, with three justices 78 or older: liberals Ruth Bader
Ginsburg (83) and Stephen Breyer (78), as well as Kennedy (80).

Some conservatives have raised questions about Pryor’s role
as Alabama attorney general in removing the state’s then-chief
justice, Roy Moore, from office in 2003 over Moore’s refusal to
remove a monument celebrating the biblical Ten Commandments from
the state’s Supreme Court building.

Pryor also joined a 2011 ruling favoring a transgender woman
who said she was fired when she transitioned from male to
female. The Supreme Court during its current term is due to
decide a major transgender rights case for the first time. The
justices have not yet heard arguments in the case, in which a
Virginia public school district is fighting to prevent a
female-born transgender high school student from using the boys’

Trump’s fellow Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the
Senate. Democrats, however, could use procedural hurdles to try
to block the nomination.

Trump said last week he would favor Senate Republicans
changing long-standing voting rules to allow a simple majority
of the 100-seat Senate to confirm his nominee, eliminating the
need to gather 60 votes to overcome a procedure hurdle, or
filibuster. This approach has been dubbed the “nuclear option.”

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer has said it is hard
to imagine Trump picking a nominee who Democrats could support,
and said he would “absolutely” fight to keep the seat vacant
rather than let the Senate confirm a nominee deemed to be
outside the mainstream. (Additional reporting by Andrew Chung, Lawrence Hurley and
Doina Chiacu)

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