After weekend in NJ, Trump returns to DC to announce Supreme Court pick

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

President Trump is expected to announce his Supreme Court nominee at 9 o’clock Monday night. He spent the weekend at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club mulling his selection.

There were three leading candidates a few days ago, but now the number is four.

Brett Kavanaugh, 53, is a federal appellate judge in Washington, D.C. He worked in the Bush administration and for Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor who investigated President Clinton. His connection to the Bushes could be a problem for Trump.

Raymond Kethledge, 51, is, a federal appeals court judge in Cincinnati and lives in Michigan. He is described as “mild” and therefore more confirm-able by the Senate than some of the others. The New York Times Monday said Trump finds him a little dull.

Amy Coney Barrett, 46, is a federal appeals court judge in Chicago. She is a “staunch social conservative,” according to the Times, and the likeliest in this group to set off a controversy over whether she would vote to repeal Roe v. Wade. She is the choice of Fox News host and Trump Advisor Sean Hannity, who played golf with the President in Bedminster this weekend.

The fourth candidate, who emerged this weekend, is Thomas Hardiman, 52, a federal appellate judge in Philadelphia. He was the runner-up last year when Trump named Neil Gorsuch to the high court. He’s back again under consideration in part because Sen. Mitch McConnell says Hardiman and Kethledge are the most easily confirm-able.

The president’s sister, retired federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, served with Hardiman on the Third Circuit and is said to be recommending him to her brother.

It was just 12 days ago that Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. Trump has been building up suspense for Monday’s announcement, just as he did with Gorsuch last year.

With this appointment Trump will try to tilt the court to the right. If you count Chief Justice John Roberts as a conservative, and most do, the court would have a solid 5-4 conservative majority.

A big confirmation fight is expected in the Senate, no matter who Trump nominates, and whoever it is will likely far outlast the president, enabling Trump to leave his mark on the justice system for decades.