District of Columbia — Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, met with President Donald Trump Wednesday to discuss a wide range of legislative issues including his views on nominees for the next U.S. Supreme Court justice.
Hatch, the senior Republican in the U.S. Senate, said in a statement issued after the meeting that he and the president discussed an “ambitious” and long list of agenda items.
“Today I had the opportunity to engage with our new President in a lengthy discussion of our ambitious agenda. We talked about a number of issues important to Utahns, and he stands ready to work with me on these matters,” Hatch said in the statement.
“I was especially honored that the President solicited my views on his upcoming Supreme Court nomination, and I was eager to share my perspective, having led the fight on more than a dozen nominations to the high court. After our meeting, I am very optimistic about the opportunity to work with the President on behalf of our state and nation,” Hatch said.
Trump said Wednesday he intends to announce his nominee for the Supreme Court on Feb. 2, and three federal appeals court judges are said to be the front-runners to fill the lifetime seat held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon.
The leading contenders, who have met with Trump, are William Pryor, Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman, according to a person familiar with the process who was not authorized to speak publicly about internal decisions and discussed the search on condition of anonymity.
The three, ranging in age from 49 to 54, were on the list of 21 potential high court picks Trump announced during his presidential campaign. Utah Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, was reportedly also on the short list of nominees.
Pryor, 54, is an Alabama-based judge on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Gorsuch, 49, is on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Hardiman, 51, is based in Pittsburgh for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. All were nominated by President George W. Bush for their current posts.
Trump has promised to seek someone in the mold of conservative icon Antonin Scalia, who died nearly a year ago after serving on the Supreme Court for more than 29 years.
Senate Republicans prevented President Barack Obama from filling the seat, a political gamble that paid off when Trump was elected.
Justices often serve for decades after the president has chosen them leaves office. The longest serving justice currently on the bench, Anthony Kennedy, was a Ronald Reagan appointee who joined the court in 1988.
Democrats and liberal interest groups, fuming over the Republican refusal to consider Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the court, are ready to fight any Trump nominee who is “outside the mainstream,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said after a White House meeting about the court vacancy Tuesday.
Conservatives said the contenders all share Scalia’s commitment to the text and meaning of the Constitution.
“These are not stealth candidates. Their records are there for everyone to see and to understand. Their judicial philosophy is well within the mainstream of American legal thought,” said Leonard Leo, a conservative lawyer who has been advising Trump on the filling the vacancy.
Written by the Associated Press with additional information provided by the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch.
Resource: Supreme Court