Donald Trump urged to avoid controversial Supreme Court pick

The Republican leader in the Senate is trying to steer Donald Trump away from picking a Supreme Court justice open to overturning abortion rights, fearing that the most controversial choice could provoke a bitter confirmation battle.

Mr Trump is due to make his announcement on Monday.

Liberals and conservatives have already begun spending on TV ads as they noisily prepare the ground for a political fight that would further expose America’s gaping divisions.

At the same time, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has quietly been lobbying the president against choosing Amy Coney Barrett, an appeals court judge and a Catholic mother of seven, according to The New York Times.

Her socially conservative views and affiliation with People of Praise, a tight-knit religious lay group, are already attracting suspicion.

Pro-abortion demonstrators outside the Supreme CourtCredit:
Nicholas Kamm/AFP

But Mr Trump has told aides he likes the idea of selecting a female justice at a time when he is frequently attacked for his attitude to women.

Instead the paper said Mr McConnell was advocating for Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman, who he believes would present fewer confirmation problems in the Senate.

Donald Trump had by Sunday still not told his aides whom he has picked for the post of Supreme Court justice in what could be the most consequential decision of his presidency.

Donald Trump spent the weekend mulling his decision at his New Jersey golf clubCredit:
Leah Mills/Reuters

He spent the weekend deliberating at his New Jersey golf club, ahead of a prime time televised announcement on Monday evening.

A seat on the bench fell vacant when Justice Anthony Kennedy – generally regarded as a swing voter who had taken liberal positions on social matters – announced his retirement last month.

Liberals fear a conservative justice will tilt the country’s highest court decisively to the Right, and could even overturn its landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision that protects abortion rights.

“I do think the president has to think about who is the easiest to get confirmed here. And I expect we will do that on sort of a normal timetable, a couple of months."

Mr Trump has signalled that overturning Roe v Wade is possible.

Earlier this month he told Fox News that abortion could be decided by states, something only possible if the 1973 decision were abandoned.

“You never know how that’s going to turn out,” he said. “That’s a very complex question.

“The Roe v Wade is probably the one that people are talking about in terms of having an effect, but we’ll see what happens. But it could very well end up with states at some point.”

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