On July 9, President Donald Trump will announce his nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Trump reportedly spent the last weekend interviewing candidates for the position, and insiders say that he has narrowed it to three people: Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Raymond Kethledge.
Here’s what you need to know about each of these justices.
Amy Coney Barrett:
Barrett has served on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals since November of 2017. Prior to this, she was a professor at Notre Dame Law School. She clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
She received a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes College (BA) and received a JD from Notre Dame Law School.
Barrett and her husband Jesse have seven children, including two adopted from Haiti, and one with special needs. She is a Catholic, and is reportedly a member of People of Praise, a charismatic ecumenical group. Her father is a Catholic deacon.
Concerns of anti-Catholic bigotry were raised during her appeals court nomination hearing, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told her that “the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.” If she is nominated, she will likely face opposition from Senate Democrats over her pro-life stance and the common presumption that she would be willing to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that found a right to an abortion throughout a pregnancy.
Barrett said in 2016 that she could envision abortion rights changing in the United States, according to the New York Times. She said in her 2017 confirmation hearings that she would “have no interest” in challenging the Roe v. Wade decision.
Her limited judicial experience on the bench may work against her, although other justices with less experience have been appointed in the past. Given the advanced age of two of the other Supreme Court justices (Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85 and Justice Stephen Breyer will turn 80 in August), as well as her relative young age of 46, it’s entirely possible Trump may save her for another potential appointment once she has more experience.
Kavanaugh has served on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals since 2006. Prior to that, he was a secretary in the George W. Bush administration. He clerked for the recently-retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
He received his undergraduate and law degrees from Yale University, and is married to his wife, Ashley. He is Catholic and graduated from the Jesuit high school Georgetown Preparatory School.
On abortion, not much is known regarding his personal views. Kavanaugh recently wrote a decision that prevented a pregnant undocumented minor in federal custody from receiving an abortion. The decision was overturned by another court.
Kavanaugh has written dissents in the past opposing undocumented persons voting in union elections and was opposed to expanding visas to foreign workers when there were Americans who could do the job.
His 2015 ruling on the HHS contraception mandate was met with a mixed response. While he sided with Priests for Life in their case against the Obama administration, he appeared to acknowledge a “compelling” interest in the availability of government-provided contraception, which had previously been recognized by members of the Supreme Court.
In a case involving the Washington Metro’s prohibition on religious-themed advertisements, including an ad by the Archdiocese of Washington, Kavanaugh was “unrelenting” in his questioning of the Metro’s lawyer, saying that he believed the prohibition was “discriminatory.”
Kethledge has been on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals since 2008. He, like Kavanaugh, is a former Kennedy clerk.
He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan. Kethledge and his wife, Jessica, have two children. He is an Evangelical Christian.
Kethledge has not said much publicly on abortion, but he served as Judiciary Committee counsel for a pro-life senator who was seeking to ban certain types of abortion.
Out of the three reported finalists, Kethledge has a mixed record on immigration that may upset some conservatives. In the past, he has sided with undocumented immigrants and has blocked deportations, but he has also ruled in favor of the government in other cases. He’s described as a judicial “textualist.”
His rulings on religious liberty are limited. In one 2018 case, he sided with a church-owned restaurant and its volunteers against the Labor Department’s wage requirements. He has, however, ruled in many free speech cases, and generally supported free speech. One notable exception was when he ruled against a legal challenge to a law that banned strip clubs in a city’s downtown.
President Trump is expected to announce his pick Monday evening from the White House. Senate hearings are expected to begin shortly thereafter.