President Donald Trump said he'd turn to the same list of conservative candidates to fill the next vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court that he used when he tapped Justice Neil Gorsuch earlier this year, the president told The Washington Times in an interview published Sunday.
Trump said he had no inside information about a possible vacancy, but had heard rumors one of the justices would retire the at the end of June when the court session ends. Some speculate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is considering stepping down from the court.
"I don't know. I have a lot of respect for Justice Kennedy. But, I just don't know," Trump said. "I don't like talking about it. I've heard the same rumors that a lot of people have heard. And, I have a lot of respect for that gentleman. A lot."
Calling it "a big thing," Trump gave credit for the list helping him to convince wary conservatives while he was running for president. At the time, he promised he would keep to the list if elected. Trump assured conservatives in the interview the next nominee would be "really talented and of our views."
"It's a great list. From the moment I put that list out, it solved that problem. And, I was proud to say it was my idea," the president told The Times.
Aiding Trump in compiling the list were Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society, and former Sen. Jim DeMint, former head of the Heritage Foundation. Trump said he honed the list after taking office when he nominated Gorsuch.
Democrats have decried the list, citing the influence of the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. Conservatives applauded the list for its many qualified contenders.
Trump said he had an even greater appreciation for the importance one justice can make in critical decisions after the intense scrutiny given Gorsuch during his confirmation process.
"You'll have hundreds of cases decided by 5-4," he said. "So, that's a great legacy."
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