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What to know about Trump's Supreme Court pick so far

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© Provided by The Hill

By Jacqueline Thomsen, The Hill

As President Trump finalizes his top pick to nominate to the Supreme Court, anticipation is building for who he could tap to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy - and who could ultimately reshape the high court for decades.

Trump is expected to announce his nominee Monday night, choosing from a previously released list of possible nominees.

[post_ads]The president told reporters Thursday that he's narrowed the list down to three or four names - those final nominees are believed to be Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett, a source familiar with the matter told The Hill.

The New York Times reported Saturday that Trump is also considering Thomas Hardiman for the spot, though he had not yet made a final decision as of Saturday afternoon.

This is what we know so far about Trump's possible pick:

Kavanaugh's experience could pose issues

The Times reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) - without explicitly naming his own preference - has pushed Trump toward selecting Kethledge or Hardiman, saying the two men are the most likely to be confirmed by the Senate.

The top Republican reportedly raised concerns about the number of documents Kavanaugh has produced in his career as D.C. Circuit judge and in previous posts, telling Trump that Democrats could delay a confirmation until after the midterm elections by seizing on what are reportedly more than one million pages of documents.

The Times also reported that the president was concerned about Kavanaugh's time as White House staff secretary to former President George W. Bush, whose family Trump has been wary of.

However, the judge hasn't been ruled out entirely - The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Trump was leaning toward Kavanaugh as a nominee.

A woman nominee could help the confirmation process

Only one woman reportedly remains on Trump's shortlist: Circuit court judge Amy Coney Barrett.

The Times reported that Trump is interested in the potential political benefits of nominating a woman for the job.

At 46, her age will allow her to influence the court for decades. Barrett, a deeply religious, staunch conservative, could also appear less extreme on women's rights and health care because of her gender.

McConnell, according to the Times, has guided Trump away from Barrett over fears he can't guarantee the support of GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Maine), who are expected to play a pivotal role in the nominee's confirmation. Some conservatives have pointed to Barrett as their chance to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision which legalized abortion nationwide - but which likely could cost the votes of the female senators.

Barrett did appear to get a boost from at least one prominent Republican. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wrote a Friday op-ed on Trump's upcoming Supreme Court pick, using only female pronouns in the piece.

Hardiman could get a second chance
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While Hardiman was not initially included in some versions of the president's shortlist, the Journal reported that Trump called the judge twice over the past week - meaning he hasn't been entirely ruled out Hardiman's landing the nomination.

The judge has served on the federal appeals court in Philadelphia with Trump's sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, who reportedly advocated for Hardiman last year.

And McConnell allegedly told Trump that the conservative would face a relatively easy confirmation in the Senate, which could give Hardiman an edge in the president's decision-making process.

Falling short of the nomination wouldn't be an unfamiliar scenario for Hardiman: Trump reportedly was close to selecting him last year for the role when he was floating potential nominees to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. Trump ultimately tapped now-Justice Neil Gorsuch for the job.

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