Supreme Court talk dominates Sunday shows as Trump nears decision

Supreme Court talk dominates Sunday shows as Trump nears decision
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Republicans expressed optimism on Sunday that the Senate will confirm any of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE's expected nominees for the Supreme Court, while Democrats sharpened their arguments in response to reports that the president has zeroed in on a few potential nominees.

Trump is scheduled to announce his pick on Monday night to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. After interviewing at least seven candidates last week, he has reportedly winnowed down his list of potential choices to four frontrunners: Amy Coney Barrett, Thomas Hardiman, Brett Kavanaugh and Raymond Kethledge

Republicans commended each of the four judges on Sunday, lauding the potential nominees' qualifications and expressing confidence that Trump's pick could secure the Senate's confirmation before the November midterms. 

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“Republicans are holding four lottery tickets, and all of them are winners. If you’re a conservative Republican, the four people named — particularly Thomas Hardiman, I’m glad he’s on the list — are all winners, and every Republican should embrace these picks,” Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamKelly lobbied Republicans to rebuke Trump after Putin press conference: report Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Trump stuns the world at Putin summit MORE (R-S.C.) said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Leonard Leo, who is on leave from the Federalist Society to assist Trump in the Supreme Court nomination process and crafted the president's previously announced list of nominees, praised each of those four judges as "extraordinarily distinguished people."

"I’m very confident with this president’s enthusiasm and with Leader McConnell’s enthusiasm that they can get anybody confirmed," Leo said on ABC's "This Week."

Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Senate, 51-49. With Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPence, Pompeo urged Trump to clarify Russia remarks: report GOP lawmaker renews call for Trump to release tax returns after Putin summit House conservatives criticize media, not Trump, for Putin furor MORE (R-Ariz.) at his home in Arizona battling brain cancer, it would take just one Republican voting “no” to upend the nomination.

But Graham said he expects Democrats running for reelection in states Trump won in 2016 will have to think carefully before rejecting the president’s nominee.

“This is a nightmare for red-state Democrats to oppose a highly qualified nominee, and all four of these people are highly qualified, been on the court, know what they’re doing, mainstream judges,” Graham said. “So red-state Democrats are going to have a very hard decision.” 

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Dems press for info on any deals from Trump-Putin meeting Too many Americans go to prison but Congress can fix this problem This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation MORE (D-Ill.), however, disputed the idea that November's midterms will play a pivotal role in any senator’s vote on a Supreme Court nominee, saying the impending nomination is “about more than the next election.”

“Beyond the procedure, beyond the gamesmanship, it is a life-and-death important decision to be made by this court on so many issues,” Durbin said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

He and other Democrats on Sunday highlighted the stakes involved with Trump’s future pick, painting the issue as a referendum on the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade. 

While Trump and his allies have downplayed whether the president is looking for a justice who will overturn Roe v. Wade — the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide — Democrats have argued the point is moot because the judge will come from a list prepared by the Federalist Society and another conservative group, the Heritage Foundation.

"I've never seen a president of the United States, in effect, make himself a puppet of outside groups and choose from a group of right wing fringe ideologues that are prepared on this list," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said on "This Week."

Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsLawmakers target link between wildlife poaching, terror groups Senate adds members to pro-NATO group Sunday shows preview: Trump readies for meeting with Putin MORE (D-Del.), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told CBS's "Face the Nation" that he intends to meet with Trump’s eventual nominee ahead of any confirmation vote, but acknowledged that the individual will come from a list “prepared for him by two right-wing activist groups.”

Coons and Durbin tore into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash House passes bipartisan bill to boost business investment MORE (R-Ky.) for an inconsistent standard on holding Supreme Court hearings in election years.

While McConnell refused to even meet with then-President Obama’s nominee Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandPoll: Americans more divided on Trump Supreme Court pick than any other since 1987 Don’t worry (too much) about Kavanaugh changing the Supreme Court Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE in 2016, the Kentucky Republican has said he will hold a vote this fall for Trump’s nominee, ahead of November's midterms.

"Totally inconsistent," Durbin said. "He’s either wrong the first time or wrong the second time. The net result is he’s trying to play to his political advantage."

Despite objections from Democrats over the idea of even holding a vote, Republicans said Sunday they believe they will have no issue confirming any of Trump’s four rumored front-runners.

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntOvernight Defense: Fallout from tense NATO summit | Senators push to block ZTE deal in defense bill | Blackwater founder makes new pitch for mercenaries to run Afghan war Hillicon Valley: DOJ appeals AT&T-Time Warner ruling | FBI agent testifies in heated hearing | Uproar after FCC changes rules on consumer complaints | Broadcom makes bid for another US company | Facebook under fire over conspiracy sites Hillicon Valley: Justice Department appeals AT&T-Time Warner ruling | New report on election security | FBI agent testifies in marathon hearing MORE (R-Mo.) said on "Meet the Press" that he believes the Senate can confirm Barrett, Hardiman, Kavanaugh or Kethledge. 

"I’m not sure I’m leaning anywhere on those four nominees. They’re good judges. I think they’d be fine justices of the Supreme Court," he said. "I do think the president has to think about who is the easiest to get confirmed here and I expect we’ll do that on sort of a normal timetable of a couple of months."