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President Donald Trump spoke on Tuesday with three possible candidates to fill a coming vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, the White House said, a day after he interviewed Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah about the job.

Raj Shah, the principal deputy press secretary, will take leave from his post to handle "communications, strategy and messaging coordination with Capitol Hill allies" full time, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

Trump said he has narrowed the shortlist to five choices, though the president has yet to announce who is on it.

Trump is now interviewing potential nominees to replace pro-gay and sometimes pro-abortion Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement last week.

He called the interviewees "outstanding" and "incredible people in so many different ways, academically and every other way".

I will be meeting with two or three more, and we will make a decision on the United States Supreme Court, the new justice, that will be made over the next few days and we will be announcing it on Monday. He said he found it "distracting" to his work in 2016 when he found himself on Trump's short list of nominees to replace Scalia, a job that eventually went to Justice Neil Gorsuch.

It has become something of a ritual among legal junkies and Supreme Court watchers: After nine months of experts' telling all who ask about this-or-that hot-button, big-ticket case that "a decision is expected in late June", late June finally arrives, and the Justices release a raft of highly anticipated-and often highly controversial-closely divided rulings. His exit paved the way for Trump to nominate a second justice to the nation's top court. After Kennedy's retirement announcement, Stevens issued a statement that said in part that Kennedy had "earned the right to enjoy a more leisurely life without the constant burden of reading briefs".

Trump has said he'll choose his nominee from a list of 25 candidates vetted by conservative groups. "Like Justice Gorsuch. We hit a home run there, and we're going to hit a home run here", he added. With McCain possibly not able to vote, Trump would need the support of Democrats to win confirmation. Harry Reid. The Reid rule requires only a simple majority to confirm a judicial nominee without the threat of indefinite delay through a filibuster. He has targeted them for defeat in November's midterm elections.

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"Mitch McConnell, shame on you, the people deserve a say, too", the protesters chanted. But during his Senate confirmation hearing, he said he accepts Roe v. Wade as "the law of the land".

"We have a particular success with Murkowski and Collins, obviously, in the ACA fight, " said Brad Woodhouse, the executive director of Protect our Care, a liberal umbrella group that did organizing around the fights in 2017 over what had been President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement. Collins asserts that a judge who respects precedent would not overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Supreme Court justices are appointed for a lifetime term, making age a key factor in determining the court's makeup in the years to come.

Joan Larsen (Pritzker '93) and Diane Sykes (Medill '80) are included on the main list of potential Supreme Court picks.

"The playbook is pretty much set", said Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network, the conservative group serving as central promoter of the nominee.

All the three women on the US Supreme Court now - Ruth Baden Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor - are liberal and support Roe v. Wade and will oppose any attempt to overturn it. Coney Barrett's vote, the columnist argued, would broad-base the opposition to it.

Souter, 78, never really liked Washington and quickly returned to his home state of New Hampshire after leaving the court in 2009.