CLOSINGS: View Closings

Trump vets his SCOTUS shortlist

"[Trump]'s increasingly intrigued by this idea of picking a conservative woman, and being the president who puts a conservative woman on the Supreme Court," CNN's Kaitlan Collins said.

Posted: Jul 4, 2018 2:32 PM
Updated: Jul 4, 2018 2:53 PM

As President Donald Trump prepares for a rollout of a nominee who could solidify the rightward tilt of the Supreme Court for decades to come, judicial conservatives are maneuvering, largely behind the scenes, to ensure that the President gets it right.

The stakes are high, as a Supreme Court seat is a lifetime appointment and conservatives want to make sure the candidate will be a reliable vote.

In a ritual repeated with every Supreme Court vacancy, interest groups and those supporting potential picks are working to boost their favored candidate's chances and jockey for the best position. The President has made clear that he will select a nominee next Monday from a list drawn up with the blessing of the conservative Federalist Society.

It is unclear if the campaign, little of it in the public's eye, will influence the White House, which is keeping its search process largely under wraps.

Many conservatives have been delighted with Trump's first pick, Neil Gorsuch, and are looking for a similar candidate who will be what they consider a reliable vote on the court. Trump called the Gorsuch choice a "homerun" in a Tuesday night speech.

The President has already interviewed several candidates from his list, including Judges Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett, and Amul Thapar, according to sources. Other sources say that Judges Joan Larsen and Thomas Hardiman are also in play.

Boosters of other candidates are turning their attention to Kavanaugh, a former clerk of Justice Anthony Kennedy's, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and has appeared to be an early front runner. Kavanaugh has a long paper trail of some 300 opinions.

Some social conservatives — while refusing to go on the record — criticized two of those opinions, one dealing with the Affordable Care Act and a second about an undocumented pregnant teen who sought an abortion.

In 2011, Kavanaugh's court ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act. While Kavanaugh dissented from that ruling, he also said that he would have ruled that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case because of a longstanding federal statute that limits the jurisdiction of federal courts to hear tax-related matters.

Critics of Kavanaugh say he should have voted straight out to invalidate the controversial statute.

"On the whole there is a lot in Judge Kavanaugh's record to admire. This opinion, however may be an outlier because he showed too much of a hesitancy to critically interpret the law Congress actually wrote," said Josh Blackman, a law professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston and the author of Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare.

Pointing to that opinion, one judicial conservative who declined to go on the record said "there is a rising doubt about the steadfastness of his views and his commitment to originalism and constitutionalism. "

More recently, the DC Circuit ruled in favor of the undocumented, pregnant teen who sought an abortion. Kavanaugh also dissented from that ruling, but a source who opposes abortion rights who was only willing to speak on background, said concerns have been expressed privately to the White House that Kavanaugh's dissent should have gone farther.

Supporters of Kavanaugh dismiss the attacks and note that he has impeccable credentials, having served in the Bush administration and then as a judge on one of the most important appellate courts in the country. They point to the vast number of opinions he has issued that offer a window into his jurisprudence.

Those include conservative votes in areas concerning presidential authority, the Second Amendment and religious liberty.

David Lat, an influential blogger at Above the Law believes the attacks on Kavanaugh are unfounded, but he said in a recent post that they "reflect the reality" that his service in the George W. Bush Administration and his trail of rulings means there is "more ammunition that can be fired at him."

Still, a senior GOP aide familiar with Supreme Court discussions said on Tuesday that Sen. Rand Paul's office has expressed concerns to the White House on Kavanaugh's Obamacare dissent as well as a 2015 opinion about the government's bulk meta data collection program. The source said that Paul spoke by phone on Monday with the President. GOP and White House sources also say that Sen. Ted Cruz expressed concerns about Kavanaugh to the white house.

A source who opposes abortion rights, who was only willing to speak on background, is pushing for Barrett over Kavanaugh. Judge Barrett drew attention in her own recent confirmation hearings when she was grilled by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein about some of her academic work on religion.

Above the Law's Lat wrote that "the strategy of painting Barrett as some sort of a religious zealot, based on her Catholic faith and her teaching at a Catholic institution backfired" for Feinstein and the Democrats.

Publicly, groups like the National Right To Life, have not come forward to support one candidate over another.

Others have suggested that Barrett might be an ideal candidate for the Supreme Court, but like Larsen and Thapar, they might benefit from more time on the bench.

Kavanaugh actually clerked with Gorsuch back in 1993. Although Gorsuch had been hired by Justice Byron White, White had retired and Gorsuch was assigned to help Kennedy's chambers where Kavanaugh was a clerk.

Multiple sources say Kavanaugh is a long time favorite of White House Counsel Don McGahn It was Kavanaugh who swore in McGahn when he became a commission of the Federal Election Commission in 2008.

The two men also share a disdain for the so called "administrative state" and believe courts should not show too much deference to federal agencies.

Kethledge, another former clerk of Justice Kennedy, has shared similar concerns. He received the support of conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt in the Washington Post this week.

"The search for Gorsuch 2.0 is underway in the White House," Hewitt wrote and called Kethledge "just like Neil Gorsuch" for his adherence to a judicial philosophy championed by Justice Antonin Scalia called originalism.

Other candidates including former Scalia clerk Joan Larsen and Sen. Mitch McConnell favorite, Amul Thapar are still very much in play. And another, Hardiman, who was a Trump favorite for the Scalia seat has gotten less attention this round, but sources say he should not be discounted.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1462456

Reported Deaths: 20308
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2005922494
Lake992001456
Allen903391005
Hamilton70705539
St. Joseph63078746
Elkhart48098622
Vanderburgh46217523
Tippecanoe42115330
Johnson37119516
Hendricks35078455
Porter33900460
Madison28036530
Clark25186321
Vigo24768341
LaPorte22894307
Monroe22201243
Howard21344372
Delaware20937363
Hancock18289217
Kosciusko17513199
Bartholomew17399212
Warrick16060212
Wayne15757296
Floyd15399252
Grant14898293
Morgan13934230
Boone13172136
Noble11421140
Dearborn11355112
Henry11312201
Shelby11231150
Marshall11041166
Dubois10782152
Jackson10174104
DeKalb9944128
Cass9942142
Lawrence9914219
Huntington9823139
Gibson9131125
Montgomery9005140
Knox8762124
Harrison8718111
Whitley844771
Steuben8340102
Jasper8069113
Putnam795197
Clinton792994
Miami7914133
Wabash7598138
Jefferson7551124
Ripley6993111
Adams6508101
Scott629086
Daviess6266127
White602379
Greene5913111
Clay587173
Wells5814120
Decatur5754118
Jennings572276
Fayette5657121
Posey529146
LaGrange512996
Randolph4925128
Washington482067
Owen480398
Fountain463579
Spencer438156
Starke434086
Sullivan432164
Fulton426790
Orange412682
Jay403964
Rush395736
Carroll371349
Franklin369850
Perry362155
Vermillion345062
Pike308945
Tipton307974
Parke305038
Pulaski266973
Blackford266755
Newton228359
Brown222654
Benton213321
Crawford211231
Switzerland189414
Martin181921
Warren169520
Union163619
Ohio119516
Unassigned0742

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2403645

Reported Deaths: 30922
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2596932036
Cuyahoga2572672998
Hamilton1666711699
Montgomery1103831586
Summit1066861382
Lucas895171149
Butler78647924
Stark747301383
Lorain62885783
Warren49934468
Mahoning49735909
Lake46850586
Clermont43541428
Delaware38876210
Trumbull38576748
Medina37611416
Licking36901401
Fairfield33848331
Greene32124416
Portage31381356
Clark30277440
Richland28251420
Wood27660289
Allen24372392
Miami22806389
Muskingum22298244
Columbiana22095399
Wayne21275354
Tuscarawas18847423
Erie18041221
Ashtabula17932338
Marion17503231
Scioto16553203
Ross16163249
Pickaway15536173
Hancock15251227
Geauga15244221
Lawrence13847186
Huron13399182
Union1329683
Belmont13255247
Jefferson12864257
Sandusky12770197
Athens11949106
Knox11511195
Seneca11454200
Ashland10795174
Darke10673196
Washington10564168
Auglaize10152141
Crawford9854175
Shelby9699155
Brown9400140
Fulton9235148
Guernsey9109115
Defiance9057134
Highland9035143
Logan8955141
Clinton8719121
Mercer8640111
Madison8568104
Preble8002160
Williams7848135
Putnam7731135
Ottawa7629120
Champaign7556112
Jackson7383114
Perry714598
Coshocton7043136
Morrow694580
Fayette662287
Hardin6219125
Pike617086
Gallia594989
Adams5779124
Van Wert5779120
Henry565592
Hocking5521103
Carroll4828100
Wyandot482289
Holmes4747161
Paulding401163
Meigs375071
Monroe299368
Noble279851
Harrison279461
Morgan276848
Vinton239845
Unassigned08
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 23°
Angola
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 23°
Huntington
Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 28°
Decatur
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 23°
Van Wert
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 23°
A gusty south wind pushes temperatures above the freezing mark Tuesday afternoon.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events