According to various reports, President Trump has winnowed the field of candidates to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy down to three.
Following a brisk round of interviews Monday and Tuesday, the three front-runners at this late stage in the president’s search are all U.S. appeals court judges: Brett Kavanaugh of Maryland, of the D.C. Circuit; Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, of the Sixth Circuit; and Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, of the Seventh Circuit.
back on the SCOTUS search beat today. The top 3 contenders as of 9:30 a.m., per GOP and WH sources: Kavanaugh, Kethledge, Coney Barrett
— Robert Costa (@costareports) July 5, 2018
It is a fool’s errand to handicap what President Trump will do in a situation like this. In fact, the surest way to not be selected is to have the media start touting you as the front runner. But this is the way I see the field lining up.
Trump is going to want to pick a candidate that makes a statement. Brett Kavanaugh has a long association with the Bush family and his wife, Ashley, was Bush’s personal secretary when he was governor of Texas. No matter Kavanaugh’s virtues, I think his resume cuts against him. The statement that Kavanaugh makes is “the Swamp has won.” I agree with Ed Whelan at National Review that much of the critique of Kavanaugh’s time on the DC Circuit is contrived but, as they say in the public relations business: P = R. Perception = Reality. There is a garden industry already out there that Kavanaugh saved ObamaCare (see counterarguments here | here). whether he did or not is immaterial. In what is going to be a messy confirmation process, the very fact that a non-trivial number of people hold that belief mitigates against Kavanaugh.
— Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) July 3, 2018
His case for Kavanaugh actually makes me hope Kavanaugh doesn't get the nod. https://t.co/7ntR6gMY8J
— streiff (@streiffredstate) July 3, 2018
Both remaining candidates make a statement. Amy Coney Barrett has impeccable credentials as a lawyer, academic, and jurist. She’s been hit with a bullsh** attack by the left because she voted not to have a decision by a three-judge panel heard en banc. (Read about the attack.) The fact that they are hitting her on something so silly shows how weak their facts are and how much they fear her. The real opposition to Barrett is going to be behind the scenes. She is going to be opposed because of her faith. While this is being reported as “anti-Catholicism” that really isn’t true. Barrett belongs to a Catholic charismatic group called “People of Praise.” Charismatic Catholicism is really inside baseball but you don’t have to know anything about it to call it a “religious cult,” which is what the left is doing. The group has used the term “handmaiden” for the leading woman in the group and you can guess what that has lead to. Slate actually has a pretty adult article on the group.
When you factor her brief tenure at the appeals court level with the “cult” nonsense, she suddenly becomes a problematic candidate when her nomination rests on the whims of Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.
This brings us to the final one: Raymond Kethledge.
One candidate who really impressed Trump today?
From Michigan, he’s a former Kennedy clerk who has won praise from conservatives, including for voting against the IRS in a case involving a tea party group.
Don’t discount him, sources told me and @GregStohr.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) July 3, 2018
Couple points from a source breakfast this AM: POTUS liked Kethledge, who has written a book on leadership and solitude, beyond his judicial work. One of the people profiled in that book? Mattis. Who’s having lunch today with POTUS? Mattis.
— Robert Costa (@costareports) July 3, 2018
I think Judge Kethledge is best choice for @realDonaldTrump for reasons outlined. https://t.co/ofqOSTkzxb I didn’t mention that it makes every rally @POTUS holds in MI between now and Nov 2020 predictable as to biggest applause line: “How about Justice Kethledge? Terrific right?”
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) July 3, 2018
Kethledge paid his own way through law school after working as a waiter and (new) car salesman. He delivered pizzas for Dominos and did landscaping during college. And he’s spent the last 3+ decades in Michigan. He would bring some much needed perspective from middle America. https://t.co/jzzed5QWiE
— Matthew Downer (@mpdowner) July 1, 2018
There is some great symbolism here. He comes from a middle class background. He grew up hunting in Michigan. He didn’t go to an Ivy League law school (that, alone, should get him the nod). (Good profile here.) He’s hostile to administrative agencies having carte blanche to interpret the law (his is Chevron deference).
He has rendered no untoward opinions on abortion which probably gets him by Susan Collins.
Ann Coulter has tried to hit him for being open borders:
Patel v. USCIS, 732 F.3d 633 Judge Kethledge rules agst U.S. to allow a foreigner, who had overstayed his prior employment visa by 6 yrs, to challenge the denial of a NEW employment visa application. https://t.co/dldlRROKSR
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) July 4, 2018
If what we are hearing is true, then Kethledge is favored to be nominated to the Supreme Court. Unless Trump decides he wants to surprise everyone, and then all bets are off.