Cincinnati-based judge among Trump's finalists for Supreme Court

McConnell sees easier path for Kethledge, Hardiman

CINCINNATI -- Raymond Kethledge, a judge with the Cincinnati-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, is among the four people believed to be President Donald Trump's top choices for the Supreme Court.

He could get some help from Kentucky's senior senator.

Kethledge and Judge Thomas M. Hardiman, with the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia, would have the easiest confirmation process, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Trump.

The other two finalists are Judges Amy Coney Barrett, with the 7th Circuit in Chicago, and Brett M. Kavanaugh, with the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington.

Kethledge, 51, was nominated to the federal bench by President George W. Bush in 2008 and clerked for Kennedy after graduating from the University of Michigan. He also served for one year as counsel to Ford Motor Co. He is a native of Michigan.

Critics worry about an anti-union opinion he issued in a case brought by public school employees. Kethledge also penned an opinion holding that the government's collection of business records containing cell-site locational data was not a search under the Fourth Amendment. That case was recently reversed at the Supreme Court in a 5-4 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts.

The New York Times reported McConnell is concerned about Kavanaugh's extensive writings in his 12 years on the federal bench, and his roles in the White House under President George W. Bush. He also worked under Kenneth Starr, who investigated President Bill Clinton.

McConnell believes that Barrett wouldn't get the support of Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, two moderate Republicans. An outspoken conservative, some believe Barrett could be less willing to uphold Roe v. Wade.

Spencer Black, with the southwest Ohio chapter of Human Rights Commission, said he wants a Supreme Court nominee who will support all marginalized communities. 

The president’s pick could cement a 5-4 majority on the court for conservatives, a possibility that’s left some LGBTQ Amercians concerned. 

“The greatest threat that we face as an LGBTQ community is that a Supreme Court justice nominee would chip away at pre-existing rights,” Black said. 

Pastor Leslie Jones of Truth and Destiny United Church of Christ said he wants the nominee to have an understanding of precedents that have been set in court, saying that overturning them “would really be an injustice.” 

“This justice is likely to to be a conservative person, and there's a great alarm in the LGBT community and people of color communities as well,” Jones said.

The Times talked with officials who were briefed on McConnell's discussions with the president.

A lengthy confirmation process could hold up Trump's nomination until after November's midterm elections, in which Democrats hope to take control of the Senate.

Some have publicly asked the president to delay his choice, pointing to McConnell's holdup of President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Trump, himself a former reality TV star, plans a dramatic reveal at 9 p.m. Monday.

Here's what we know about the top contenders:

Amy Coney Barrett

AGE-BIRTHDATE: 46, Jan. 28, 1972

BIRTHPLACE: New Orleans.

EDUCATION: B.A., Rhodes College, 1994; J.D., Notre Dame Law School, 1997.

CURRENT JOB: Since 2017: Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

JOB HISTORY: 2002-2017: Law professor, Notre Dame; 2001-2002: Adjunct faculty member, fellow in law, George Washington University Law School; 1999-2001: Private practice, Washington, D.C.; 1998-1999: Law clerk, Justice Antonin Scalia; 1997-1998: Law clerk, Judge Laurence H. Silberman, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

FAMILY: Husband, Jesse Barrett; seven children.

OTHER DETAILS: Her Roman Catholic faith became an issue during her confirmation hearing last fall to be an appeals court judge. The Senate confirmed her 55-43.

QUOTE: "We shouldn't be putting people on the court that share our policy preferences. We should be putting people on the court who want to apply the Constitution." — 2016 speech at Jacksonville University's Public Policy Institute.

Thomas Hardiman

AGE-BIRTHDATE: 53, July 8, 1965

BIRTHPLACE: Winchester, Massachusetts.

EDUCATION: B.A., University of Notre Dame, 1987; J.D., Georgetown University Law Center, 1990.

CURRENT JOB: Since 2007: Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.

JOB HISTORY: 2003-2007: Judge, U.S. District Court for Western Pennsylvania; 1990-2003: Private practice, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh.

FAMILY: Wife, Lori Hardiman; three children.

OTHER DETAILS: During his undergraduate years at the University of Notre Dame, he drove a taxi to support himself. Speaks Spanish. He is on the same appeals court as Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, the president's older sister. The Senate confirmed him 95-0 to his current job in April 2007.

QUOTE: "I have no hesitation in applying a law regardless of what I might think about it. I think any good judge recognizes his or her place in our constitutional government, and that place is not to upset the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives." — 2006 Senate confirmation hearing.

Brett M. Kavanaugh

AGE-BIRTHDATE: 53, Feb. 12, 1965

BIRTHPLACE: Washington, D.C.

EDUCATION: B.A., Yale University, 1987; J.D., Yale Law School, 1990.

CURRENT JOB: Since 2006: Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

JOB HISTORY: 2003-2006: Staff secretary to President George W. Bush; 2001-2003: White House counsel's office; 1999-2001, 1997-98: partner, Kirkland and Ellis law firm; 1998, 1994-1997: associate counsel, Office of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr; 1993-1994: law clerk, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy; 1992-1993: Office of Solicitor General; 1991-1992: law clerk, Judge Alex Kozinski; 1990-1991: law clerk, Judge Walter Stapleton.

FAMILY — Wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh; two daughters.

QUOTE — "To be sure, the constitutional text does not answer all questions. Sometimes the constitutional text is ambiguous, such as the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses. No doubt that's true. But in far fewer places than one would think. As I like to say to my law clerks and my students, we should not strain to find ambiguity in clarity. And even in those areas where there is true ambiguity, that should not mean 'anything goes.' Just because there are two reasonable readings of a constitutional provision or a statute does not mean that the gates are open to a completely free-form approach." — May 2014.

Raymond Kethledge

AGE-BIRTHDATE: 51, Dec. 11, 1966

BIRTHPLACE: Summit, New Jersey.

EDUCATION — B.A., University of Michigan, 1989; J.D., University of Michigan law school, 1993.

CURRENT JOB: Since 2008: Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

JOB HISTORY: 2002-2008, 1998-2001, 1994: private practice; 2001-2002: lawyer, Ford Motor Co.; 1997-1998: law clerk, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy; 1995-1997: counsel to U.S. Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich.; 1993-1994: law clerk, Judge Ralph Guy.

FAMILY — Wife, Jessica Levinson Kethledge; one daughter, one son.

QUOTE — "In sum, we will grant that the plaintiffs have shown some risk that Ohio's execution protocol may cause some degree of pain, at least in some people. But some risk of pain 'is inherent in any method of execution_no matter how humane.' And the Constitution does not guarantee 'a pain-free execution.' Different people may have different moral intuitions as to whether_taking into account all the relevant circumstances_the potential risk of pain here is acceptable. But the relevant legal standard, as it comes to us, requires the plaintiffs to show that Ohio's protocol is 'sure or very likely' to cause serious pain. The district court did not meaningfully apply that standard here. And the plaintiffs have fallen well short of meeting it." — June 2017 opinion.

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