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: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' 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 GrahamTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' Graham knocks South Korea over summit with North 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 McCainTrump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Another recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief R-E-S-P-E-C-T: One legacy of Franklin and McCain is up to us 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 DurbinGrassley to administration: You must consult Congress on refugee cap Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan group wants to lift Medicaid restriction on substance abuse treatment 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 CoonsJudiciary Democrat calls for additional witnesses to testify on Kavanaugh Kavanaugh allegations could be monster storm brewing for midterm elections      Sunday shows preview: White House officials on offensive in wake of anonymous NY Times op-ed 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 McConnellSanders hits Feinstein over Kavanaugh allegations: Now it’s clear why she did nothing for months On The Money: Senate approves 4B spending bill | China imposes new tariffs on billion in US goods | Ross downplays new tariffs: 'Nobody's going to actually notice' McConnell tamps down any talk of Kavanaugh withdrawal 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 GarlandHirono: Dems could keep SCOTUS seat vacant for two years Kavanaugh understands a good judge is an umpire — not a diva Budowsky: If Dems win control of Congress 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 BluntMurkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow 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."