Donald Trump's top campaign lawyer, Donald McGahn who is now White House counsel, is the man in charge of reshaping not only the Supreme Court but the entire federal judiciary. McGahn decided in 2016 that conservative voters needed to comfortable with a candidate Trump who showed now allegiance to any ideological philosophy. The decision was made to put together a list of court nominees and release it to the public. This would demonstrate to conservatives how Trump would impact the judicial process.
With help from Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the conservative Federalist Society we are now down to the final four, Brett M. Kavanaugh, Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett. Trump is scheduled to announce his nominee from the White House this evening at 9 pm ET.
Hardiman, a runner-up when Trump chose Neil M. Gorsuch as his high court nominee last year, Hardiman, who was recommended by the president's sister and sometimes-confidante, retired federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry. She served with the Pennsylvania-based Hardiman on the US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Kavanaugh serves on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; Michigan's Kethledge is on the 6th Circuit, and Indiana's Barrett is on the 7th Circuit.
But with most Trumpian processes there's a fly in the ointment. McConnell spoke to Trump on Friday and raised the prospect that either Kavanaugh or Barrett could unnecessarily jeopardize an expeditious confirmation of the new justice.
In the case of Kavanaugh, it's because he has spent the past couple of decades as an appeals court judge, a top Bush administration official and a lawyer on Kenneth Starr's team during the Bill Clinton scandal, leading to a paper trail that could take a very long time to sort through — and could potentially spring some surprises. Kavanaugh also notably might struggle to win the support of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
In the case of Barrett, it's because she is seen as the most antagonistic toward Roe v. Wade and could feasibly lose the support of pro-abortion-rights Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), either of whose vote could doom her nomination if no Democrats cross over.
Leo is on the record as saying two names on the president's short list to succeed retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy — Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman — had less-established conservative records, making it harder to line up support should they be selected. "I think in regards to Kethledge and Tom Hardiman they are a little less known by conservatives and their records are a little bit lighter so it might take some time…It's important to have people who are extremely well known and have distinguished records."
So, it appears to me that they are more concerned with getting someone, anyone in before Nov and the Dems possible gain seats (playing not to lose) instead of selecting the best person for the benefit of the country (playing to win). The GOP is playing with thin margins effectively 50-49 with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) battling brain cancer.
This partisan rancor is destroying the little semblance of representative democracy we had.
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