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President Trump Could Announce His Supreme Court Nominee Within The Week

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

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.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: 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.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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.

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