By Michael A. Memoli
WASHINGTON – President Trump said Tuesday he plans to announce his Supreme Court nominee next week, his first and most significant step to reshape the federal judiciary.
The fate of the high court seat left vacant after the death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia was a major issue in the presidential race. The Senate’s Republican majority refused to consider former President Barack Obama’s choice, Judge Merrick Garland.
Trump said at a news conference this month that the choice would likely be announced within his first two weeks in office. He told reporters in the Oval Office Tuesday he would make a final decision this week – and promised it would be a “truly great” nominee.
Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, who serves on the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, has emerged as a leading contender, as is Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of Alabama, who serves on the U.S. 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta.
Trump will meet at the White House Tuesday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and the chairman and top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., respectively. McConnell said he “appreciated the president soliciting our advice” on the decision.
Democrats have vowed to fight Trump’s choice, in large part because of how Republicans refused to even hold a hearing on Garland’s nomination.