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Without Kennedy, the high court will have four justices picked by Democratic presidents and four picked by Republicans, giving Trump the chance to shift the ideological balance toward conservatives for years to come.

Donald Trump has interviewed four candidates to replace Anthony Kennedy, the retiring supreme court justice, and may interview two or more additional potential picks, leaving White House staff members scrambling to complete a vetting process in time for the planned announcement of the president's pick on Monday 9 July.

During the third and final 2016 presidential debate, Trump made it clear that he would appoint justices that would overturn Roe v. Wade, leaving it up to each individual state to legalize abortion or make it illegal.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump expressly promised that overturning Roe, which legalized abortion on demand in the US, "will happen" through his judicial nominees.

Trump's potential picks have a sharp divide between those with a long service on the circuit courts and those who are brand new, setting up what could be very different confirmation battles in terms of the contours of the fight.

Kethledge was nominated to his current post by then-president George W. Bush, which stalled for more than a year after opposition from Michigan's U.S. Sens.

In an interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on Sunday Morning Futures, Trump said his nominee to replace Kennedy will be "conservative", but he said he "probably" won't ask his pick whether he or she supports overturning Roe v. Wade. He did not identify any of them.

But Collins said she also wouldn't blindly vote to confirm someone she thinks is unworthy in other respects - even if he or she supports Roe v. Wade.

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The average age of the candidates on Trump's list of 25 justices is 52 years.

With Republicans controlling the Senate 51 to 49, Democrats must prevent any defections and win over at least one Republican if they hope to block a nominee.

Republicans ended up resorting to a rule created by the Democrats in 2013, by Democratic Sen. Though McCain has often defied Trump, he has been absent from Congress all year as he undergoes treatment for an aggressive brain cancer.

During a contentious confirmation hearing, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein suggested the writings of Ms Barrett - who is a devout Catholic - might indicate she could not be impartial when religious issues appear before her court.

"Because the other side, all they can do is obstruct and resist, the whole thing is 'resist, ' but - and maybe someday we'll be able to get along with the other side, I don't know, but right now it's only resist", Trump lamented.

President Trump is expected to reveal his nominee next week. They were the only Democrats to do so. He has been the swing vote in several noteworthy - for some, notorious - cases going back to the early 1990s, as well as the author of the opinion of the court in many.

"The Council of State has notified my office that the consultation process for the appointment of the nominees as Justices of the Supreme Court is now complete", it added. "I am not going to vote for anyone who tells me they are going to decide a case before the facts are presented".


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