President Donald Trump has not wasted time since U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced last week he is retiring. Kennedy, a moderate conservative who's been the swing vote in many human rights decisions, will step down from the bench at the end of the month. But the president is already interviewing potential candidates and plans to announce his next nominee on July 9.
Six out of Trump's list of 25 potential nominees are women. One of them, federal appellate judge, Amy Coney Barrett already met with Trump on Monday. Trump also had meetings with Amul Thapar, Brett Kavanaugh, and Raymond Kethledge — all federal appeals court judges.
During the 2016 presidential election, Trump promised to appoint anti-abortion judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade, which would lead to abortion becoming illegal once again in the U.S. When White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about Roe specifically at a press briefing Monday, she told reporters that Trump didn't discuss past cases in his meetings. (Not that it matters, since the president's list of nominees was created with the help of anti-abortion, conservative legal organization the Federalist Society.)
With the fight over abortion rights in mind, some conservatives have been pushing for President Trump to nominate a woman to the bench. But some liberal legal scholars say the effort might backfire.
"The optics of Trump judicial nominees is bad so far, in that they’ve been overwhelmingly white and male," Caroline Fredrickson, from the American Constitution Society told Politico. "As a part of their communications strategy, they might think nominating a woman might cause people to believe he’s nominating someone more mainstream. … I think that would be misplaced, because the women on his shortlist are just as hard right as the men."
Amy Coney Barrett
Out of all the women, Barrett seems to be the frontrunner. The 46-year-old was confirmed by the Senate to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October. The vote was 55-43.
Barrett, who identifies as Catholic, used to be a law professor at the University of Notre Dame. Among liberal circles, concerns have been raised over whether she can separate her faith from her decisions on social issues such as abortion.
In particular, Barrett's ties to a small Christian group called People of the Praise have raised alarms. According to the New York Times: "Members of the group swear a lifelong oath of loyalty, called a covenant, to one another, and are assigned and are accountable to a personal adviser, called a “head” for men and a “handmaid” for women. The group teaches that husbands are the heads of their wives and should take authority over the family."
During her confirmation hearing for the federal appellate judge position, Barrett told senators that she would follow the law, not her personal beliefs, when issuing a ruling.
Grant, a 40-year-old justice in the Georgia Supreme Court, is the youngest female candidate in Trump's shortlist. President Trump picked her for the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but the Senate has yet to start the process on her nomination.
If she's nominated by Trump to the U.S. Supreme Court, she could be in the bench for at least four decades.
Eid, 53, was confirmed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, replacing Neil Gorsuch after he became a U.S. Supreme Court justice. During her confirmation process, she faced opposition from the AFL-CIO and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Eid was a Colorado Supreme Court justice for over a decade, which gives her some edge over other potential nominees with less rulings under their belt. Before that, she clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
The 54-year-old is a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF). She was nominated by President George W. Bush and was confirmed by the Senate in 2006. The vote was unanimous.
She served in the Marine Corps between 1988 and 1992. In the early 2000s, she was a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Her 15-year term at CAAF is due to end in the summer of 2021.
Larsen, 49, was a aw professor at the University of Michigan. She currently serves on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. She was nominated to the bench by President Trump in the spring of 2017 and was confirmed by the Senate in a 60-38 vote.
She was a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and was a deputy assistant attorney general during the administration of President George W. Bush.
Sykes, 60, currently serves in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. She was nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate in 2004.
Some Trump supporters have asked the president to remove her from the shortlist for two allegedly "pro-choice" rulings she made: striking down an Indiana law that defunded Planned Parenthood in 2012 and sentencing anti-abortion activists to 60 days in jail in 1993.