Just hours before President Donald Trump will make his announcement of who will fill the vacancy in the U.S. Supreme Court, Sen.
The candidates on Trump's shortlist are Brett Kavanaugh, a former adviser to George W. Bush, Raymond Kethledge, a strict interpreter of the US Constitution, Amy Coney Barrett, a devout Catholic and social conservative, and Thomas Hardiman, a staunch gun rights advocate. Momentum appeared to be with Kavanaugh and Hardiman, though the process remained fluid.
President Donald Trump has yet to announce his pick for Supreme Court, but Democratic Sen. Getting a nominee through takes time.
The announcement will set in a motion a brutal - and expensive - political battle over Trump's supreme court nominee. At the top of that list is abortion.
Santorum added that picking Hardiman could help Trump bolster his support in Pennsylvania, a crucial state in his electoral college victory in 2016 and a 2020 battleground. Kennedy provided a decisive vote in 2015 on an important fair housing case.
Democrats are still stinging from Republicans refusing to even grant a hearing to President Barack Obama's choice to serve on the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland.
Former New Hampshire Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., would guide the nominee through the confirmation process, including preparing for meetings with senators. Kennedy will retire at the end of July after serving since February 1988.
Trump is hoping to replicate his successful nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch previous year. Trump had spent the days leading up to his announcement discussing the pros and cons of the various options with aides and allies. An Associated Press analysis found that roughly two-thirds of the judges who have been confirmed under Trump are white men.
Conservative judicial advocates say the judicial appointments are correcting the leftward tilt of the bench. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. - were also invited to the event but will not be attending. Dianne Feinstein previous year during her confirmation hearing to the federal bench.
Democrats have turned their attention to pressuring two Republicans, Sens. For example, on the campaign trail, Trump promised his base that if he was elected he would appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. SCOTUSblog, which covers actions of the Supreme Court, said his opinions have shown an "originalist approach to the Second Amendment right to bear arms", and that he "has not weighed in directly on issues relating to abortion" - two hot-button issues.
"I've never seen a president of the United States, in effect, make himself a puppet of outside groups and choose from a group of right-wing fringe ideologues that are prepared on this list", Blumenthal said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said opponents were using "40-year-old scare tactics" over abortion and other issues but they "will not stop us from doing the right thing". Hardiman was counted as a front runner during last year's nomination that ultimately went to Gorsuch.
Barrett is a Notre Dame Law School alumna, and she received the Hoynes Prize, the Law School's highest honor.