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Trump’s Top 4 Picks for Supreme Court: Here’s What You Need to Know

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President Donald Trump interviewed on Monday four potential nominees to replace retiring United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

In June, Justice Kennedy announced his intention to retire officially at the end of July, giving President Trump his second Supreme Court vacancy to fill.

Although the White House did not disclose who the four judges were, according to a report by the New York Times, they were believed to be Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit; Brett M. Kavanaugh of the District of Columbia Circuit; and Raymond M. Kethledge and Amul R. Thapar of the Sixth Circuit.

Trump is scheduled to announce his nominee for the high court next Monday. Here is some background on the four judges who might become the nominee for the empty Supreme Court seat.

Amy Coney Barrett

A 45-year-old devout Catholic and mother of 7, Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals last October by the U.S. Senate.

Prof. Amy Coney Barrett.

In addition to her Catholic faith, Barrett has ties to a Pentecostal group called People of Praise, which traces its origins to the campus of the University of Notre Dame, where she taught at the law school.

During her hearing before the Senate, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California took issue with Barrett’s faith, expressing concern that she would let her Catholic views influence her decisions.

“I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country,” stated Sen. Feinstein.

Barrett responded to the criticism of Feinstein and other Senate Democrats by noting that she did consider herself a “faithful Catholic” but would not let her religious beliefs influence her judicial obligations.

“If you’re asking whether I’m a faithful Catholic, I am, although I would stress that my own personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear on the discharge of my duties as a judge,” responded Barrett.

Brett M. Kavanaugh

53-year-old Brett Kavanaugh was originally nominated to the District of Columbia Circuit by President George W. Bush and previously worked under Ken Starr, who investigated President Bill Clinton.

President Bush, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House before the swearing-in of Brett Kavanaugh, center, as Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Thursday, June 1, 2006 in Washington. Holding the Bible is Kavanaugh’s wife Ashely Kavanaugh. (Photo: AP / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

A native of the D.C. area and member of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Kavanaugh previously clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy and counts as a friend the current Chief Justice John Roberts, according to the Baltimore Sun.

At least one opinion column in the influential conservative publication The Wall Street Journal titled “The Case for Brett Kavanaugh” has argued that Kavanaugh should be the nominee.

“What should President Trump look for in a Supreme Court nominee? Exactly what he did with his selection of Justice Neil Gorsuch and his slate of lower-court nominees,” read the piece.

“He should ask one question: Who is best at being a judge, as demonstrated by a consistent record of applying textualist and originalist reasoning to significant legal questions? Given the reported options Mr. Trump is now considering, the answer is obvious: Judge Brett Kavanaugh.”

Raymond M. Kethledge

A 51-year-old member of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Raymond Kethledge joined the court in 2008 after being nominated by President George W. Bush.

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During the 1990s, Kethledge served as clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy and also Judge Ralph B. Guy, Jr. of the Sixth Circuit. He also served as counsel for Senator Spencer Abraham of Michigan.

Judge Raymond Kethledge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Last year, Kethledge had a book released on leadership that was coauthored by Michael S. Erwin. The work examined the leadership traits of notable historical figures, noting that solitude was a key feature.

“Throughout history, leaders have used solitude as a matter of course. Eisenhower wrote memoranda to himself during World War II as a way to think through complex problems. Martin Luther King found moral courage while sitting alone at his kitchen table one night during the Montgomery bus boycott. Jane Goodall used her intuition in the jungles of Central Africa while learning how to approach chimps,” noted the book’s description.

“To find solitude today, a leader must make a conscious effort. This book explains why the effort is worthwhile and how to make it.”

Amul R. Thapar

The son of Indian-American immigrants, 49-year-old Amul R. Thapar is a member of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals who previously taught at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.


Judge Amul R. Thapar of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Thapar was previously nominated by President Donald Trump to his current position on the Sixth Circuit in March 2017, having served as a district court judge in Kentucky.

He was also previously considered for the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, a nomination that eventually went to current Justice Neil Gorsuch.

If nominated by the president and approved by the Senate, Thapar would be the first Indian-American to serve on the United States Supreme Court.

Raised in a culturally Hindu family, Thapar converted to Roman Catholicism when he married Kim Schulte. The couple have three children.

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