SUPREME SHOWDOWN: Trump Teases 'EXCEPTIONAL' Court Pick

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Just hours before President Donald Trump will make his announcement of who will fill the vacancy in the U.S. Supreme Court, Sen.

Departing his New Jersey golf club on Sunday afternoon, Trump told reporters he was still making up his mind.

In his conversations over the weekend, Trump expressed renewed interest in Hardiman _ the runner-up when Trump nominated Gorsuch, said two people with knowledge of his thinking who were not authorized to speak publicly. But a woman's right to choose may be at the center of the Senate's confirmation hearings.

The president is said to have narrowed his choice to four federal appeals court judges: Thomas Hardiman, 53, of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals; Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett, 46; Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Raymond Kethledge, 51; and District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh, 53.

Barrett - a longtime Notre Dame Law School professor who became a federal judge last fall - excited social conservatives since she was questioned about her Roman Catholic faith in her nomination hearings past year, but her brief time on the bench has raised questions about her experience. She is a well-known conservative whose past comments on abortion drew attention at her Senate confirmation hearing. Barrett has said she believes life begins at conception. She once called a 1992 Supreme Court decision that upheld Roe v. Wade "erroneous". But Barrett told senators she would not let her staunch Catholic beliefs affect her legal rulings.


The 52-year-old Hardiman was nominated to the federal trial court by George W. Bush in 2003 and to the 3rd Circuit in 2007 and was confirmed by the Senate in a 95-0 vote. He also has a compelling personal story: He went to the University of Notre Dame as the first person in his family to go to college. He was in the running a year ago for the Supreme Court seat left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. He lost to Justice Neil Gorsuch. The coming battle over a Supreme Court nominee promises to be a bruising one. He financed his law degree at the Georgetown University Law Center by driving a taxi. He has the Ivy League credentials Trump desires, but has also been a controversial judge.

Track record: Barrett's recent ascension to the appeals court means she does not have the long, conservative record that lawmakers on the right find reassuring. "It's about more than the next election", Democratic Sen.

In a 2013 law review article, Kavanaugh wrote that after seeing firsthand the many hard duties that a president encounters, he thinks that presidents should operate free from the threat of civil suits, such as the sexual harassment suit that led to President Clinton's impeachment, and that presidents should also be free from criminal investigations. His views on abortion are generally unknown, but Kavanaugh was part of a panel that signed an order previous year to prevent an illegal teenage immigrant from getting an abortion.

They include Judge Raymond Kethledge, 51, who sits on the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals, who would puncture the Ivy League aura that cloaks the Supreme Court since he studied law at the University of MI and not Harvard or Yale. The barn office has no internet connection and uses a wood stove for heat. A self-described introvert, Kethledge co-authored a book, "Lead Yourself First", in which he talks about how some of the world's great leaders learned from solitude and quiet. Barry served alongside Hardiman as a federal appeals judge on the 3rd Circuit before stepping down previous year. "I'm very confident with this president's enthusiasm and with Leader McConnell's enthusiasm that they can get anybody confirmed".

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