Who top conservatives want Trump to pick for Supreme Court

President Trump is slated to announce his highly anticipated pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court on Monday night after narrowing down a list of potential nominees to just three likely names.

As the president prepares to make his selection, which comes less than four months before the midterm elections, conservative activists are publicly urging him to consider a number of picks that look likely to push the balance of the court toward conservatives for decades.


Trump has reportedly narrowed his list of seven interviewed candidates to just three federal appeals court judges: Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett. He is set to unveil his pick at the White House in prime time on Monday night.

Democrats and some Republicans are pressuring Trump to pick a nominee who in their view is not intent on overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion across the country in 1973. Trump has said recently that he will not ask candidates about their stance on the case as he prepares to make his decision.

Here’s who top conservatives and allies of the president want to see Trump pick for his next nominee:

Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman

Though he hasn’t backed anyone outright, the Senate Majority Leader is reportedly nudging Trump toward nominating Kethledge or Thomas Hardiman, because they present “the fewest obvious obstacles to being confirmed,” The New York Times reported Saturday.

According to the Times, McConnell has told Trump and White House counsel Don McGahn in multiple phone calls that he fears another top pick, Kavanaugh, would have a hard time securing the Senate’s confirmation. The Times reported that McConnell has raised concerns over Kavanaugh’s extensive paper trail from his 12 years as a D.C. Circuit judge, in addition to his posts as White House staff secretary for former President George W. Bush and assistant to Ken Starr, whose investigation ultimately led to the impeachment of former President Clinton.

Hugh Hewitt: Raymond Kethledge

Conservative MSNBC commentator and radio host Hugh Hewitt has pushed publicly for Trump to nominate Kethledge, a judge on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, whom he has described as the “best choice” in the White House’s search for “Gorsuch 2.0,” referring to Trump’s successful nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch last year.

Hewitt specifically pointed to Kethledge’s willingness to challenge a company’s “deference toward the vast administrative state, a doctrine dangerous in its corrosive effect on self-government,” in a Washington Post op-ed this week. He also cited the advantage of nominating a judge such as Kethledge from swing-state Michigan.

Matt Schlapp: Brett Kavanaugh

Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union and a top ally of the president, has urged Trump in an op-ed for The Hill to select Kavanaugh as his next nominee. In the piece, Schlapp pointed to a number of rulings that favored conservatives, such as an opinion against a decision upholding ObamaCare’s contraceptive mandate and a dissenting opinion against a ruling that upheld a ban on semi-automatic rifles.

“He literally wrote the book on judicial precedent, with Justice Gorsuch as one of his co-authors. No one else on the president’s list comes even close to that level of influence,” wrote Schlapp, whose group hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

Mark Levin: Mike Lee

Radio host Mark Levin named as his top choices for Trump’s nominee two names that do not appear to be near the top of the president’s list, while claiming Barrett as his third choice. The conservative host argued that he would rather see Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R), whom he called the “gold standard,” nominated to the court, but conceded that Judge William Pryor and Barrett would be acceptable second and third choices, respectively.

Laura Ingraham: Brett Kavanaugh

Fox News host Laura Ingraham joined the chorus of figures on the right banding behind a potential Kavanaugh nomination, tweeting Friday night that the judge’s “12 yrs of STELLAR opinions” should overshadow any criticism he may receive for originally being named to the bench under the George W. Bush administration.

“The fact that Kavanaugh—like so many conservatives his age—worked for Bush 43 is a nonsensical reason to oppose him for SCOTUS,” she tweeted.

Ben Shapiro: Amy Coney Barrett

Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro urged Trump to select Barrett during an appearance on Fox Business Network’s “Kennedy” this week, calling her preferable, especially to Kavanaugh, in that she was likely “more solid in terms of what originalists are hoping for.”

Kavanaugh, Shapiro argued, was the “D.C. insider pick” and was being pushed hard by former members of the Bush administration. Kethledge, he added, would be an acceptable second-choice pick.

Jim DeMint: Mike Lee

Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who now heads the Conservative Partnership Institute, tweeted Thursday that he was throwing his organization’s support behind Lee, who had apparently been eliminated from Trump’s top picks by the end of the week but remained among the seven candidates Trump had interviewed for the seat.

“Sen. Lee has a proven record of standing up for principle, for doing the right thing for the right reasons, even in the face of withering criticism,” DeMint tweeted.

Adam Brandon: Mike Lee

Tea Party-affiliated group FreedomWorks announced in a press release this week that its president, Adam Brandon, had signed a letter with conservative senators urging Trump to tap Lee for the high court.

“With the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia last year, President Donald Trump hit a home run. Now, with the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the president has a chance to go two for two, and put his stamp on the high court for a generation,” Brandon said.

Erick Erickson: Mike Lee

Conservative columnist Erick Erickson appeared to join DeMint and other figures on the right in calling for Lee to be installed on the Supreme Court, calling the GOP senator the “perfect pick” for the court in a tweet in late June, sharing a column calling for as much.

— This list will be updated with new developments

— Updated 9:20 p.m.

Tags Amy Barrett Brett Kavanaugh Donald Trump Donald Trump Mike Lee Mitch McConnell Raymond Kethledge SCOTUS Supreme Court White House
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