Aides to Trump and McConnell declined requests for comment. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. The three others were justices Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Raymond Kethledge.
A leading Democratic senator suggested that President Donald Trump is making himself "a puppet" by selecting a Supreme Court nominee from a list compiled by conservative groups. "We've been talking about this for 36 years going all the way back to the nomination of Sandra O'Connor, and after that you only have a single individual on the court who has expressly said he would overturn Roe". It is similar to how Trump has approached most of his self-imposed deadlines for appointees, toggling between choices until almost the last moment.
Trump has teased details of his process in recent days, saying Thursday that he was down to four people and "of the four people, I have it down to three or two".
The appointment is seen as crucial because Kennedy was often a swing vote who would sometimes side with the court's four conservative justices and at other times with its liberals.
Trump, who spent the weekend at his New Jersey golf club, has not yet communicated a final choice, said a person familiar with his thinking who was not authorized to speak publicly.More news: Saudis weigh lure of higher oil prices as United States asks for more
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In the course of the 2016 election, Trump made changing the face of the U.S. supreme court a key campaign pledge that was instrumental in firing up his base of right-wing conservative voters. His supporters have scoffed at the notion he is not conservative enough.
That's when Hatch dropped two potential major clues as to who Trump plans to nominate. A Republican appointee, he has held the key vote on such high-profile issues as abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, guns, campaign finance and voting rights. But unlike most recent Supreme Court contenders, he graduated from a public university's law school, at the University of MI, and he has spent less time in Washington than many.
Mr Thapar, 49, a Cincinnati-based federal appeals court judge, was among the first four candidates interviewed by Mr Trump on July 2.
But McConnell's logic cuts both ways. He also called the court's majority approach a "radical extension of the Supreme Court's abortion jurisprudence".
Jones said that regardless of who the nominee is, "we're going to give them a very, very good, hard and fair look to determine what I believe to be the best interest of my constituents, but also the country". But his advisers say he is prepared to push through the nominee with only Republican votes - and that is why he is sounding notes of caution about Kavanaugh and Barrett.