Reuters reports that President Trump may nominate a replacement for Justice Kennedy before July 10. That’s when Trump is scheduled to leave the U.S. for his trip to Europe. Reuters cites, “a White House official” as its source.
I think there’s a good chance that Trump will, indeed, select his nominee before he departs for Europe. The goal should be to get a Justice confirmed by the beginning of October when the Supreme Court reconvenes. If Trump picks a nominee by July 10, the Senate should be able to confirm him or her by then, assuming no unexpected problems arise.
Trump shouldn’t rush to pick a nominee, though. The stakes are too high. Better to miss the October target date than to pick another Justice Souter or someone who, upon intense scrutiny, will have unexpected vulnerabilities.
But Trump should be able to pick a fine nominee by July 10. Justice Kennedy’s retirement was expected, and Trump has had his list of possible replacements for some time.
Although the list contains 25 names, I assume that the folks who prepared it are fixed on a much smaller number of candidates. There are probably no more than half a dozen who are under serious consideration now.
The president should have enough time in the next week and a half to interview those at the top of the list and adjudicate among them. But if not, or if he can’t get comfortable with anyone he interviews, he should hold off on making a selection.
UPDATE: Majority Leader McConnell told Shannon Bream of Fox News:
We expect to get a nomination from the president rather soon. And we should be able to work our way through the confirmation process sometime before early fall. Hopefully in time for the new justice to begin the fall term of the Supreme Court, the first Monday in October.