Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society and outside adviser to President Donald Trump for judicial nominations, named four potential Supreme Court nominees on "Fox News Sunday."
"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace asked Leo about the upcoming confirmation battle for the next Supreme Court justice and if the nominee has past views or writings expressing hostility towards the abortion ruling of Roe v. Wade that their nomination could face opposition from some Republican senators.
"One of the few ways that a Trump nominee could fail to be confirmed is if you get one of the two — here they are on the screen, if you lose one of the two Republican senators, Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski, were both pro-choice. Is it fair to say that the president won't pick someone who has a record of opposition to Roe v. Wade?" Wallace asked.
"I think Senator Collins made the point very clearly. She wants someone who's going to adhere to the constitution and the law more than anything else," Leo responded.
"She also said that it's a firm precedent. If you have somebody who has a record, for instance William Pryor, that it was an abomination, Roe v. Wade, that's clearly going to set off alarm bells," Wallace said. "It would be fair to say the president is not going to pick somebody who has a clear record of opposition to Roe v. Wade?"
"None of the people who are being talked about now in the public space in the media are people who have a clear position on Roe v. Wade. The most important thing here is a record showing fairness, someone who listens very carefully to arguments on both sides," Leo said. "Someone who tries to keep an open mind and prospective nominees like Brett
"None of the people who are being talked about now in the public space in the media are people who have a clear position on Roe v. Wade. The most important thing here is a record showing fairness, someone who listens very carefully to arguments on both sides," Leo said. "Someone who tries to keep an open mind and prospective nominees like Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Barrett, Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman are people who have not specifically said they oppose Roe v. Wade and their writings and their work show that they are very fair."
All four names Leo mentioned are on Trump's list of potential Supreme Court justices.
Wallace asked if it was fair to say if the four people are the front runners in the search to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.
"No, I don't think it's fair to say that, and here's why. The president is really in the driver's seat along with the assistance of White House counsel Don McGahn. Those are people who are under very serious consideration, two of them as you know are people who throw the process to some extent," Leo said.
He added how Kavanaugh and Barrett have gone through a vetting and confirmation process already by the White House.
"And then Brett Kavanaugh is one of the most distinguished jurists in America," Leo said. "He has over 300 opinions. He is respected by both sides on the political and ideological spectrum and Barrett, similarly is one of the most talented and distinguished women in the legal academy anywhere in the country. Former law clerk to Justice Scalia. As someone who, again, people across the spectrum greatly admire."
Kennedy announced last week that he would retire, effective July 31, giving Trump the opportunity to make two appointments in two years to the nation's highest court. The vacancy sets up a bitter confirmation fight right before the midterm elections, where Republicans only have a single vote majority in the Senate. Despite the slim majority, Senate Republicans only need a 51-vote majority to confirm the Supreme Court nominee after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) changed the rules to allow it in the case of Supreme Court justice confirmations. McConnell's move followed the precedent set by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) when he eliminated the filibuster for judicial nominees and presidential appointments back in 2013.