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President Trump Could Announce His Supreme Court Nominee Within The Week


President Trump said he expects to announce his pick for the Supreme Court this week. Joining us is NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson.

Good morning.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: You've been reporting on the president's shortlist to fill this vacancy. Who seems to be the leading contender?

JOHNSON: To hear President Trump tell it, it will be a woman. Listen to what the president said last night.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It will be a woman - a very talented, very brilliant woman.

JOHNSON: And, Lulu, of the women on the shortlist, one stands out - Amy Coney Barrett. She's on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, a former law professor. She's written critical things about the landmark abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade and about how Chief Justice John Roberts handled the Obamacare - the Affordable Care Act case. President Trump has called her highly respected, but I've also heard he had some reservations about her the last time around when she was a finalist for the job that Brett Kavanaugh eventually got.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: President Trump has been criticized for a lack of diversity in his judge nominees, but I see there's also a Latina on this list. Who is she?

JOHNSON: Barbara Lagoa - she's a Cuban American from Miami. She sat on the Florida Supreme Court until President Trump promoted her to a seat on the 11th Circuit federal appeals court. She is very highly touted by current and former politicians in Florida. She could help energize Latino voters in November. But a couple of members of the conservative legal establishment here in Washington told me there are some unknowns about her - that seems to be code for, is she reliably conservative? President Trump doesn't know her well, but he sounds like a fan already.


TRUMP: She's an extraordinary person. I've heard incredible things about her. I don't know her. She's Hispanic and highly respected - Miami - highly respected.

JOHNSON: And speaking of diversity, one other name on the list is Amul Thapar of Kentucky. He's a favorite of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He would be the first Asian American on the high court.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You've reported that this White House has made a point of choosing relatively young people also to fill lifetime appointments on the federal bench. Does that pattern hold here?

JOHNSON: It might. There are a couple of other younger women I'm hearing about - Kate Todd, who used to work at the Chamber of Commerce, now handles judge nominations inside the White House. They like her there. And there's Allison Jones Rushing. She's a favorite of evangelical groups, an important part of the Trump base. Judge Rushing was born in 1982. She only recently became a federal appeals court judge. And she has a lot of supporters, but she might be too young for the Supreme Court right now.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You know, the election is only six weeks away, and it usually takes much longer than that to vet and to confirm a candidate. How is that going to work if, indeed, they move forward?

JOHNSON: Well, the president says he wants to make his announcement this week. In the past, it's taken about 69 days, on average, for a Supreme Court candidate to go from nomination to confirmation. And of course, time between now and November 3 is shorter than that. Trump says he wants to see his choice confirmed without delay, and he says before the election would be, quote, "very good."

GARCIA-NAVARRO: NPR Carrie Johnson, thank you very much.

JOHNSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Johnson
Carrie Johnson is NPR's National Justice Correspondent.