How Trump is 'producing' his SCOTUS pick

NPR's Nina Totenberg gives Brian Stelter her take on the theatrics surrounding President Trump's SCOTUS decision and says "he really hasn't made up his mind" about the upcoming announcement that is expected on Monday night.

Posted: Jul 9, 2018 9:36 AM
Updated: Jul 9, 2018 10:10 AM

When President Donald Trump unveils his second Supreme Court pick Monday night with the prime-time flourish of a reality show star, he will lay a momentous marker in modern political history.

"An exceptional person will be chosen!" Trump tweeted on Sunday, showing his glee at making a selection that will put him in the national spotlight he craves with a cherished win decades in the making for his Republican supporters.

Trump's pick will cement a 5-4 majority on the court for conservatives who could quite possibly dominate for a generation and, combined with his aggressive efforts to appoint judges to other federal courts across the country, ensure that the imprint of his contentious presidency will endure long after he has left office.

In many ways, Trump's pick will further empower the conservative backlash against progressive victories of the Obama era, on issues like gay rights, immigration and health care legislation that set a torch under his shock general election campaign. Some of those victories were made possible by the swing vote of Anthony Kennedy, whose retirement handed Trump a golden ideological opening.

Liberal horror and conservative delight about the implications of the pick have crystalized into a debate about the newly constituted court's potential to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that upheld a legal right to an abortion.

Yet the focus on abortion fails to do justice to the sweeping changes that could be unleashed over time by a solidly conservative court.

The new justice could sway cases that define the role of religion in public life, determine the scope of gun rights, endorse a more restrictive interpretation of civil rights legislation and further loosen regulatory constraints on big business.

The new majority will essentially leave Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed by President George W. Bush, as the only likely potential swing vote from the court's right wing justices. That fact alone reflects just how conservative the jurisprudence of the nation's highest bench is likely to be in the years to come.

"It's an historic decision. It's about more than the next election," Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois on NBC's "Meet the Press" said Sunday. "It's about what country the United States of America is going to chart as its course in the future on this Supreme Court."

Meet the contestants

Trump spent the weekend at his New Jersey golf resort mulling over his final decision, but said that he was down to four candidates who still had a chance of being invited to the White House for their national televised coming out party on Monday night.

The rollout will be modeled on the seamless presentation in January 2017 of the President's first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, in what was undeniably one of his most successful and most well-managed moments as President.

He did not reveal his short list. but he is believed to be considering three men and one woman, all of whom have strong conservative credentials.

They include Judge Raymond Kethledge, 51, who sits on the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals, who would puncture the Ivy League aura that cloaks the Supreme Court since he studied law at the University of Michigan and not Harvard or Yale.

Trump is also believed to be studying Brett Kavanaugh, 53, of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and a Yale Law School graduate. Kavanaugh worked in the administration of each President Bush and also for independent counsel Kenneth Starr in the investigation that eventually led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

The President is also said to be intrigued by Amy Coney Barrett, 46, whom he nominated to the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals, was a Notre Dame law professor and clerked for the late Antonin Scalia -- the gold standard for conservatives in a Supreme Court nominee.

Thomas Hardiman, 53, who sits on the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals, is also thought to be on Trump's list. Hardiman, who drove a cab as he worked his way through college, was in the running for the seat that eventually went to Gorsuch.

Each of the candidates has a judicial paper trail and list of past comments that could concern Trump and that will be highlighted by Democrats in a confirmation hearing but also draw conservative support.

Kavanaugh's time in Bush administrations, for example, could count against him with a President who is suspicious of the political establishment. Hardiman is seen by conservatives as having a strong record on the Second Amendment. Barrett has already crossed swords with Democrats in her Senate confirmation hearing for her current job, when California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said that religious "dogma" lived loudly in her. The New York Times reported Sunday that Trump found Kethledge a little dull and worried about his record on immigration. The President's hardline policy approach means the issue could well end up before the court soon.

Senate Republicans prepare for battle

Still, for conservative activists, such distinctions between the potential nominees are quibbles.

Given GOP control of the Senate and the chamber's Republican leader Mitch McConnell's abolition of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations during the Gorsuch confirmation saga, any of the four is expected to have a strong chance of confirmation.

Democrats have little leverage as they try to halt the nomination -- though the court's rightward lurch could stoke liberal turnout in the midterm elections in which the House of Representatives is in play. Perhaps it will fire up Democrats to embark on the decades-long quest to remake the ideological balance of the court that the GOP has used to enthuse its grassroots voters and that Trump harnessed in 2016.

For now, Democrats are piling pressure on Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who has expressed disquiet about the nomination of a judge who might overturn Roe v. Wade. Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski is in the spotlight for similar reasons.

But both senators voted to confirm Gorsuch, who would be expected by conservative activists to vote to return decisions about abortions to the states.

And Democrats cannot even be sure of holding their line against Trump's pick.

Several senators in states where Trump won big in 2016, like Jon Tester in Montana, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Joe Manchin in West Virginia, are caught between the party's riled up liberal base and their own socially conservative voters.

One Democrat from a red state, Alabama's Doug Jones, told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that he did not rule out voting for Trump's nominee.

"I'm open to voting yes. I'm open to voting no. We don't know who this nominee is going to be yet. I don't think my role is a rubber stamp for the President, but it's also not an automatic, knee-jerk no either," Jones said.

A boon for Trump

While Democrats are flailing, Trump can hardly lose.

It is not exaggeration to say that the prospect of tipping the balance of the Supreme Court was the reason why evangelical conservative voters, who had plenty of reason to worry about Trump's character, decided to stick with him during the 2016 election campaign.

Recent developments underline the shrewdness of Trump's campaign team, which published a list of potential court nominees with stellar conservative credentials before he faced off against Hillary Clinton.

"Remember, the President ran on the Supreme Court issue and that greatly enthused voters," Leonard Leo, who is currently on leave from the Federalist Society, where he helped craft Trump's list of candidates, said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday.

By installing Gorsuch and another, similar candidate on the court, Trump can tell conservative voters that he kept his promises and give them a reason to solidify his electoral coalition.

In a wider sense, his nominee will also represent a triumph for conservatism and the organized effort to promote vetted conservative judges that offered McConnell a pipeline of candidates for lower courts and now is reaching the ultimate prize -- a solid Supreme Court majority.

It also underlines that the decision by McConnell to refuse to confirm President Barack Obama's pick for the court, Judge Merrick Garland, before the 2016 election, that could have led to a liberal majority, as one of the most far-reaching gambits in recent political history.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 40767

Reported Deaths: 1533
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin13054790
Ramsey5127233
Dakota257094
Stearns248119
Anoka2360111
Nobles16766
Olmsted123518
Washington122840
Mower9742
Rice8738
Scott8234
Clay60138
Kandiyohi5871
Blue Earth5442
Wright5165
Carver4421
Todd4022
Sherburne3445
Lyon3322
Freeborn3090
Watonwan2450
Steele2431
Benton2353
St. Louis21816
Nicollet19112
Martin1725
Cottonwood1380
Goodhue1388
Winona13615
Le Sueur1191
Pine1110
Crow Wing11012
Chisago1051
Otter Tail1041
McLeod990
Dodge970
Carlton890
Polk863
Unassigned8638
Isanti800
Chippewa791
Waseca750
Douglas690
Itasca6912
Murray680
Pipestone674
Meeker621
Morrison621
Faribault610
Becker570
Jackson570
Sibley572
Pennington530
Beltrami430
Brown432
Renville372
Mille Lacs362
Wabasha350
Fillmore310
Rock310
Yellow Medicine310
Houston290
Swift291
Grant240
Norman210
Redwood210
Roseau210
Wilkin213
Cass192
Big Stone170
Koochiching171
Kanabec161
Wadena160
Aitkin150
Lincoln130
Marshall120
Pope120
Clearwater100
Mahnomen101
Stevens100
Hubbard80
Lake60
Traverse60
Lac qui Parle40
Red Lake40
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34080

Reported Deaths: 742
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk7196182
Woodbury331744
Black Hawk245759
Buena Vista173311
Johnson14058
Linn136683
Dallas136531
Marshall108019
Scott100210
Dubuque91822
Story8515
Pottawattamie80612
Wapello71431
Muscatine68544
Crawford6793
Sioux4970
Tama48229
Wright3971
Louisa36513
Plymouth3455
Webster3454
Jasper33717
Warren3111
Dickinson2953
Cerro Gordo2661
Washington2499
Hamilton1981
Boone1641
Clay1481
Clarke1433
Allamakee1384
Clinton1301
Shelby1200
Mahaska11917
Carroll1101
Poweshiek1108
Bremer1067
Pocahontas1061
Franklin1040
Des Moines1002
Emmet950
Cedar941
Henry933
Hardin890
Cherokee821
Taylor810
Monona780
Marion770
Floyd762
Benton741
Guthrie734
Jones690
Osceola660
Sac650
Butler642
Buchanan621
Jefferson620
Calhoun612
Iowa611
Humboldt591
Hancock581
Harrison580
Delaware561
Fayette560
Jackson560
Lee542
Madison532
Monroe517
Lyon500
Clayton483
Palo Alto480
Grundy470
Mills470
Winneshiek450
Mitchell440
Davis421
Kossuth410
Union380
Howard370
Lucas344
Winnebago330
Greene300
Chickasaw290
Cass270
Unassigned270
Ida230
Keokuk231
Worth220
Appanoose213
Van Buren210
Page200
Adair170
Audubon161
Ringgold151
Decatur130
Montgomery112
Wayne110
Fremont100
Adams80
Rochester
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 74°
Mason City
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 79°
Albert Lea
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 75°
Austin
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 79°
Charles City
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 79°
Cooler air finally filtering in, rain chance returns Saturday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Connecting with a loved one with dementia during the pandemic

Image

Bruins set to host all-star game

Image

COVID-19 Cases Expected to Spike in North Iowa

Image

Training hard for a season that might not happen

Image

Sean's 6pm Weather 7/10

Image

Sweet Corn season kickoff

Image

Getting caught in the act

Image

Forum tomorrow: educating young voters

Image

Donation to Channel One Food Bank

Image

Concern over spread of COVID-19 downtown

Community Events