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Trump says he'll name high court pick on July 9
03 July 2018, 05:17 | Justin Tyler
Michael Brochstein SOPA Images LightRocket via Getty Images
Although Kennedy was a conservative nominated by Republican President Ronald Reagan, he was seen as the "swing vote" on the court because he joined with liberal justices on some major issues, including expanding gay rights and upholding abortion rights.
Without Kennedy, the high court will have four justices picked by Democratic presidents and four picked by Republicans, giving Trump the chance to shift the ideological balance toward conservatives for years to come.
"Justice Kennedy's retirement from the Supreme Court marks a pivotal moment for the fight to ensure every unborn child is welcomed and protected under the law", Ms. Dannenfelser said in a statement.
Trump thinks Lee would be easily confirmed by the Senate, but the president has expressed concern about keeping the Utah Senate seat in GOP hands, Bloomberg News reported.
But Manchin said he warned the president not to choose a nominee who will set out to undo the landmark ruling on abortion access, Roe V. Wade, or even a justice outwardly opposed to the Affordable Care Act.
In an interview with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo that will air Sunday, though, the president said he "probably" wouldn't ask candidates about how they'd vote on the case. "The way he puts it, is someone who is quote, 'not weak, '" Leo said.
A onetime supporter of abortion rights, Trump attracted support from social conservatives during the presidential campaign in large part because of his strong opposition to abortion.
Some possible nominees being eyed include Thomas Hardiman, who serves alongside Trump's sister on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Raymond Kethledge, a federal appeals court judge who clerked for Kennedy. Also of interest are Amul Thapar, who serves on the federal appeals court in Cincinnati; Brett Kavanaugh, a former clerk for Kennedy who serves on the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.; and Amy Coney Barrett, who serves on the federal appeals court in Chicago.
In the run-up to selecting Gorsuch, Trump met with three contenders and White House officials vetted several more.
Gorsuch's record on abortion is sparse.
When divided by party affiliation, about 53 percent of Republicans said they would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, was at the White House Thursday night for a meeting with Trump. But he told reporters on Friday that he would not question potential high-court nominees about their views on abortion, saying it was "inappropriate to discuss".
The White House operator did call Mr. Melendez back at one point to verify that he was who he said he was, asking whether he was calling from a cellphone and why it appeared to be from a California area code.
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