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Trump enjoys 'suspense' ahead of Supreme Court announcement

Trump enjoys 'suspense' ahead of Supreme Court announcement

And he's consulting with the vice president and others as he zeroes in on a nominee.

"I think that we probably have never seen an appointment process that will be as contentious as this one given the importance of Kennedy's position on the court and the increasingly polarized state of the nation", said George Washington University legal analyst Paul Schiff Berman via Skype. He's expected to announce his final pick on Monday evening.

Mr. Trump was to discuss the pick Friday night at dinner with Vice President Mike Pence, who personally met this week with Judges Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Raymond Kethledge.

The president's top contenders include federal appeals court judges Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Raymond Kethledge, with federal appeals court judge Thomas Hardiman still considered in the mix.

The president's standing with white evangelical Christians hit an all-time high in April when 75 percent of evangelicals held a favorable view of Trump, according to a poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute.

Some conservatives have expressed concerns about Kavanaugh - a longtime judge and former clerk for Kennedy - questioning his commitment to social issues like abortion and noting his time serving under President George W. Bush as evidence he is a more establishment choice.

Cruz's pitch comes only days after Lee's office confirmed the senator was formally interviewed by the president about the Supreme Court opening. All he has to do is make up his mind.

WERTHEIMER: A very appealing candidate but not necessarily to President Trump's base voters - who do you think they'd like best?

Pence met with Kethledge and Coney Barrett while in IN earlier this week, then sat down with Kavanaugh in Washington on Wednesday. They could provide Republicans with an additional buffer if they decide to support the president.

Judging from the comments of TV pundits and news reporters, the betting seems strong that Trump will wind up choosing Judge Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge who sits on the District of Columbia circuit.

Aware that judicial picks are key voting issues, Trump has stressed that he wants a justice who will be a strict constitutionalist. Some conservative groups don't trust Barry because she wrote an opinion striking down a New Jersey abortion regulation in 2000, and they hope she has no influence over her brother's choice.

Conservatives and some libertarian-leaning Republicans, including Sen.

Paul and another Republican, Sen.

But last week a political tornado barreled through her campaign and those of other red-state Democrats trying to keep their seats in a Senate that Republicans narrowly control. And with the ailing Arizona Sen. Any GOP defections could begin to doom a nominee. By painting those guidelines in a New York Times column, Schumer offered a roadmap for Donnelly, Manchin and Heitkamp.

It was less than 18 months ago that Trump named Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Some conservatives have pointed to Kethledge as a potential justice in the mold of Gorsuch.

Prior to his stint in the Bush White House, Kavanaugh, along with Kethledge, were law clerks for the outgoing Kennedy at different times in their careers. Kethledge attended the University of MI for both undergraduate and law school. And she engendered some - or I should say Senator Feinstein engendered some controversy when, at Judge Barrett's confirmation hearings, she said something to the nominee along the lines of the dogma - meaning Catholic teaching - lives loudly within you.

It's not surprising then - and indeed a "smart" strategy, according to Professor Lawless and others - that Democratic Senate minority leader Charles Schumer of NY is highlighting and pairing abortion rights and health care as issues that hang in the balance with Justice Kennedy's replacement.