President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday that he will nominate a Supreme Court justice to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia on Feb. 2.
The three leading contenders are federal appeals court judges William Pryor, Thomas Hardiman, and Neil Gorsuch, sources familiar with the process told NBC News. Each of the judges was nominated to their current posts by President George W. Bush.
Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump promised to pick a staunchly conservative justice to continue the legacy of Scalia after his death in February last year. Each of the three men seems to fit the bill.
Oxford-educated Gorsuch served as a clerk to Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy, and has supported religious objections to birth control mandates. But Gorsuch is also seen as a balanced professional who basis his verdicts on legal text and the Constitution, which has earned him a wide range of supporters.
Pryor's past comments on homosexuality would likely result in a fierce confirmation battle with Democrats.
As Alabama Attorney General, Pryor filed a 2003 brief arguing against "homosexual sodomy" and compared gay men to necrophiliacs, pedophiles, and people who have sex with animals. He also once described Roe v. Wade as "the worst abomination in the history of constitutional law."
Hardiman is a colleague of Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, Trump's sister.
Trump met with lawmakers on Tuesday to discuss the Supreme Court nominee on Tuesday. "I reiterated that view in our meeting today, and told him that Senate Democrats would fight any nominee that was outside of the mainstream," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.