After an 11-month political standstill on filling the Supreme Court vacancy, the wait may be worth it for conservative activists eager to see President Trump choose a like-minded nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
According to Trump, the decision is coming soon.
“I’ll be making my decision this week, we’ll be announcing next week,” Trump said, after meeting Tuesday with Senate leaders from both parties to discuss the vacancy. “We’ll pick a truly great Supreme Court justice.”
This, as sources close to the selection process tell Fox News the list of possible candidates is now down to three names, all of them federal appeals court judges: Judge William Pryor in Alabama, Judge Neil Gorsuch in Colorado, and Judge Thomas Hardiman in Pennsylvania.
Trump has met personally with all three, sources say.
Trump said at a press conference last week before he took office that a decision would come within two weeks of his being sworn in. Press Secretary Sean Spicer reinforced that rough timeline on Monday, saying the nomination remains a “priority.”
The three judges in play were all on the original list of 21 candidates Trump announced as a presidential candidate last year, and supporters tout their conservative credentials:
— Judge William Pryor, who sits on the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, with chambers in Birmingham, Ala.
Pryor is close to Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, the Alabama senator. Born in 1962, he was initially given a recess appointment to the appeals court. Senate Democrats then tried to block Pryor’s subsequent nominations, citing his strong criticism of the Roe v. Wade decision establishing a woman’s right to an abortion. He called it the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law.”
— Judge Neil Gorsuch, on the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, with chambers in Denver
Born 1967, he went to Harvard Law School, then clerked for Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. He went into private practice in Washington before joining the Bush Justice Department. His mother is Anne Burford, the first female administrator at the EPA. Gorsuch wrote the book “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia.”
His name has been rising in Trump’s circle in recent weeks.
— Judge Thomas Hardiman, 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, with chambers in Pittsburgh
Born 1965, he saw the Supreme Court affirm his 2010 ruling that a jail policy of strip-searching all those arrested does not violate the Fourth Amendment’s ban on “unreasonable searches and seizures.” Hardiman sits on the same court as Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, who despite the family ties is not being considered for any high court vacancy.