How are Supreme Court justices chosen?

Supreme Court justices serve for life and have the ability to extend a President's legacy. Jeffrey Toobin explains how someone is selected to sit on the bench of the highest court in the land.

Posted: Jul 5, 2018 3:57 PM
Updated: Jul 6, 2018 4:19 AM

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer appealed to President Donald Trump to repeat his predecessor's choice and nominate federal judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court for a second time "as a way to unify the country," according to a source.

The President phoned the New York Democrat on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the Supreme Court vacancy, according to a person familiar with the call. The Washington Post was the first to report the contents of the call.

According to the source, Schumer warned Trump of "cataclysmic" consequences if he picked a nominee that is "hostile" to the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade -- the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

"Schumer also warned the President that if he picked someone hostile to Roe, and hostile to the ACA, that it would be 'cataclysmic,' tear the country apart in a way it hasn't been for some time, and be bad for the President's legacy," the source told CNN.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

The source also said that Trump's call to Schumer "seemed more like a check-the-box call than meaningful consultation, given that it came after Trump had narrowed his short list and begun interviewing candidates."

Garland, who is the chief judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2016 to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. However, Republicans refused to hold a hearing on his nomination, citing the 2016 election.

Justice Neil Gorsuch was eventually nominated by Trump and confirmed to the bench last April, and Garland returned to his job in the judiciary.

Last year, after Trump fired James Comey, several prominent Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recommended that Garland fill the role of FBI director.

Over the past few days, the President met with at least seven contenders and is believed to have whittled his list of potential candidates down to two or three, sources familiar with the search told CNN.

Judges Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett, and Amul Thapar, Joan Larsen and Thomas Hardiman are under consideration for the job, sources told CNN.

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