A quick look at the "final four" Supreme Court candidates

Mandel Ngan  AFP  Getty Images

Mandel Ngan AFP Getty Images

Top contenders had included federal appeals judges Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett and Thomas Hardiman.

President Donald Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

President Donald Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to be the next justice to join the Supreme Court of the United States. Kethledge, 51, is a judge for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Hardiman, a runner-up when Trump chose Neil Gorsuch as his high court nominee previous year, received a wave of new attention in the weekend discussions, according to two people briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly about it.

A third finalist, Amy Comey Barrett, was seen at her home in IN just a few hours before Trump was set to unveil his nominee at a White House ceremony. He was a runner-up a year ago when Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. "He hasn't committed to how he is going to vote on the nominee", Severino said about Jones, who has supported abortion rights.

The White House reassigned key communications staff last week to focus exclusively on the looming Supreme Court fight. The White House hopes Kyl's close ties to Senate Republicans will help smooth the path for confirmation.

Kavanaugh told the president Monday night as he took the microphone to accept his nomination that he was "grateful to you" and "humbled by your confidence in me".

Trump previous year appointed Gorsuch, who has already become one of the most conservative justices, after Senate Republicans in 2016 refused to consider Democratic former President Barack Obama's nominee Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy left by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

With Democrats determined to oppose Trump's choice, the Senate confirmation battle is expected to dominate the months leading up to November's midterm elections.

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But the judges who made it onto the president's list of finalists were all carefully vetted, and this diversity of opinion likely disappeared as Trump worked to ensure that the nominee would uphold his policies on controversial issues like abortion.

The president built much anticipation ahead of the prime-time announcement, confirming only Monday afternoon that he'd made a final decision. That decision was reversed by the Supreme Court this year in a landmark ruling.

The Judicial Crisis Network, the main conservative television and advertising effort, announced plans Monday to spend an additional $1.4 million, on top of the $1 million already committed to support the nominee. "Any judge on this list is fruit of a corrupt process straight from the D.C. swamp..." But in terms of selecting his nominee, the president said he would not use Roe v. Wade as a litmus test for a nominee.

Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said that based off the president's list, it's "near impossible" to selected a nominee who isn't hostile to the Affordable Care Act and women's reproductive rights.

Republicans effectively control 50 Senate seats because Sen. Barrett is a member of the obscure Catholic group People of Praise, which Vox reports requires members to "swear an oath of loyalty and give each other input on personal life decisions". It's not an arm of the White House.

Some experts contend that regardless who Trump picks from among his favored quartet of judges, the difference when it comes to actual court decisions will be minimal.

"As my friend Lindsey Graham said yesterday, he said it's as if we have four winning lottery tickets, each could be a great Supreme Court justice in their own right". "But in the process we lose sight of the far more important points, which is just how much any of them would move the court to the right".

Mr. Leo said the judges on the president's shortlist are "extraordinarily distinguished people". "It is going to represent a really significant ideological and political shift, and it's going to have, I think, a seismic impact on the rule of law".

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