Trump narrows Supreme Court nominee to 4 names ahead of today's announcement

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Two other judges, Amul Thapar and Joan Larsen have also been considered by the President.

After a short but intense build-up since Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement less than two weeks ago, the president has scheduled a prime-time event from the White House East Room at 9 p.m. The vacancy, left behind by Anthony Kennedy, is the second Trump has had to fill since taking office.

US President Donald Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, setting the stage for a bruising confirmation battle. In the most recent Supreme Court term, progressive groups insisted that the Trump administration was violating the First Amendment by banning entrants into the United States from certain Muslim-majority nations - a view that conservatives, and ultimately the Supreme Court, disagreed with.

The 53-year-old Kavanaugh, who clerked for Kennedy and who now sits on the US court of appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court, emphasized in his remarks accepting the nomination the importance of judicial independence. While Trump hasn't named any specific contenders yet, it's widely believed that he is choosing between four federal appeals court judges-Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett, and Thomas Hardiman.

The confirmation process promises to be a fight, and Republicans have a narrow 51-49 majority - with nearly no room to lose votes as Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona remains absent while fighting brain cancer.

"We are close to making a decision", said Trump.

Opposition researchers, vetters and Senate staffers would have to comb through not just his 286 opinions as a judge, the most of any current judge under consideration, but also his papers at the National Archives, which would include his years in the Bush White House and his role in the Ken Starr investigation looking into President Clinton.

Oil falls as Trump urges OPEC to reduce prices
Brent crude futures were at USD77.70 per barrel at 0250 GMT, down 54 cents, or 0.7 percent, from their last close. Also on Thursday, data showed United States crude stockpiles rose unexpectedly last week by 1.2 million barrels.

In her 20s, she co-authored a paper that said Catholic judges, if they are faithful to church teachings, are "morally precluded" from enforcing the death penalty. Gorsuch, who worked at the Justice Department in 2005 and 2006, had a smaller set of executive branch documents for review.

Trump indeed said during the 2016 campaign that he would put "pro-life justices on the court", thrilling his grassroots base although polls show most Americans support abortion rights. But it's likely that supporters of abortion rights are still wondering about this issue. Luther Strange, cutting the GOP's Senate majority to 51-49.

Manchin's spokesperson also said he wasn't planning to attend and the senator said later in a tweet that he appreciated the invitation from Trump. That's not to say that something won't be said today or tomorrow that I totally, 100 percent disagree with.

Trump's made-for-TV announcement mirrored his January selection of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Republicans have often been seen as taking greater interest in the judiciary than Democrats. The Supreme Court could be called upon to weigh in on these matters. They'll target three Democratic senators who voted for Gorsuch and who are running for re-election in states that Pres. Trump won.

Two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of ME, are pro-abortion and have said they would vote against a candidate who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Democrats are certain to press Trump's latest nominee on the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, a decision some conservatives - particularly conservative Christians - have long wanted to overturn.