President Trump meeting with Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit judges as he narrows Supreme Court pick

Posted at 11:15 AM, Jul 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-03 14:20:03-04

CINCINNATI -- President Donald Trump is expected to meet with another judge with the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as he narrows his next Supreme Court pick.

He's already talked with two others.

U.S. Circuit Court Judge Joan Larsen could meet with Trump as soon as Tuesday, sources familiar with the president's meetings told ABC News.

The president has said he'll announce his nomination to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy by July 9.

Larsen, 49, served on the Michigan Supreme Court from 2015 to 2017 before Trump nominated her to the federal bench. She also was a professor at the University of Michigan Law School and clerked for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia after graduating from Northwestern.

Trump's short list includes 27 names.

Two other judges for the 6th Circuit, Amul Thapar and Raymond Kethledge, met with Trump on Monday. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president met with four people for 45 minutes each and will continue meetings through the rest of the week.

She said Tuesday he has "two or three more that he'll interview this week and then make a decision."

Monday's interviews were with federal appeals judges Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Kethledge and Thapar, said a person with knowledge of the meetings who was not authorized to speak publicly about them.

The Washington Post first reported the identities of the candidates Trump spoke with.


From 2008 to 2017, the 49-year-old Thapar served as a federal judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky. He was the first American of South Asian descent to be named to an Article III federal judgeship.

Trump nominated Thapar to the 6th Circuit in 2017.

Starting when he was a law clerk here in 1994, the Troy, Michigan, native has lived and worked in the Tri-State for almost 20 years. Thapar has been on the faculty of Chase College of Law for 10 years. Ironically, one of his classes is The Supreme Court Seminar.

Friends and colleagues gave him their unqualified praise.

“I’ve never labeled him liberal, conservative,” said Adam McNeely. “I think he’s a principled jurist who follows the law and he works hard to get the right result.”

“What’s consistent is that he is always prepared, he is always respectful, he sees the big picture,” said Jeff Mando.

“He’s highly intelligent, really thoughtful about everything that he does,” said Michael Whiteman.

“As phenomenal a judge as he is, I think he’s 10 times better a human being,” said Ben Dusing.

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.

Like Thapar, he is a native of Michigan.

Kethledge's 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.

Max White with WXYZ contributed to this report.