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Trump to Announce Pick to Fill Supreme Court Vacancy Next Week

Trump says he'll announce his pick to fill the Supreme Court vacancy next week.
Image: File photo shows the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington
The U.S. Supreme Court building is seen in Washington, May 20, 2009.MOLLY RILEY / Reuters

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he will reveal his pick to fill the Supreme Court vacancy next week.

The president's announcement, which was anticipated based on his previous comments, comes just before he was set to meet with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders later on Tuesday.

“The president has invited the Democratic Leader, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, and myself to the White House this afternoon to meet with him regarding the Supreme Court vacancy as part of his ongoing consultations with Members of the Senate. I appreciate the President soliciting our advice on this important matter,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement on Tuesday.

While on the campaign trail, Trump released a list of 11 names of people he might consider to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia nearly a year ago.

Those mentioned at the time included 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge William Pryor who, during his 2003 confirmation hearing was pressed by lawmakers on his previous comments calling Roe v. Wade the "worst abomination in the history of constitutional law."

U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit Judge Diane Sykes, who was also on the list, was once lauded by the National Rifle Association for an opinion she wrote in a case that found firing ranges are covered by the Second Amendment.

"Put her on your Supreme Court shortlist for the next Republican administration," the NRA wrote in 2011.

The following year, she said an Illinois law that criminalized recording on-duty cops was unconstitutional.

The statute "restricts far more speech than necessary to protect legitimate privacy interests,” she wrote.

Of fellow potential contender, Third Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman, SCOTUS blog wrote he "has weighed in on a variety of hot-button topics important to Republicans, and his votes in these cases have consistently been conservative. For example, the gun rights cases in which Hardiman has participated reflect an originalist approach to the Second Amendment right to bear arms."

10th Circuit judge Neil Gorsuch's name has also emerged as potentially on the shortlist. The former law clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy has drawn lauds for his well written decisions and comparisons to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last year.

"Like Scalia, Gorsuch also seems to have a set of judicial/ideological commitments apart from his personal policy preferences that drive his decision-making," SCOTUS blog wrote in a profile. "He is an ardent textualist (like Scalia); he believes criminal laws should be clear and interpreted in favor of defendants even if that hurts government prosecutions (like Scalia); he is skeptical of efforts to purge religious expression from public spaces (like Scalia); he is highly dubious of legislative history (like Scalia); and he is less than enamored of the dormant commerce clause (like Scalia). In fact, some of the parallels can be downright eerie."

During the campaign season, social conservatives pressed for a far-right leaning slate of justices.

"This is really important," Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, a socially conservative group that campaigned against Trump in the primary told NBC News at the time. "If this turns out to be people that we see as constitutionalist and who have a right view of the issue of life, it will be very exciting to our base."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pointed to Republican inaction on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, as an example of what could happen to a Trump pick.

"We are not going to make it easy for them to pick a Supreme Court Justice," he told Rachel Maddow on MSNBC earlier this month. "It's hard for me imagine a nominee that Donald Trump would choose that would get Republican support that we would support."