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Snapshots of top contenders for Supreme Court vacancy

July 9, 2018
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FILE - In this March 8, 2017, file photo, Judge Thomas Hardiman smiles during a meeting with The Associated Press in Philadelphia. Hardiman is one of four judges thought to be President Donald Trump’s top contenders to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

A look at the four judges thought to be President Donald Trump’s top contenders to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court:

NAME: Amy Coney Barrett

AGE-BIRTHDATE: 46, Jan. 28, 1972

BIRTHPLACE: New Orleans.

EDUCATION: B.A., Rhodes College, 1994; J.D., Notre Dame Law School, 1997.

CURRENT JOB: Since 2017: Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

JOB HISTORY: 2002-2017: Law professor, Notre Dame; 2001-2002: Adjunct faculty member, fellow in law, George Washington University Law School; 1999-2001: Private practice, Washington, D.C.; 1998-1999: Law clerk, Justice Antonin Scalia; 1997-1998: Law clerk, Judge Laurence H. Silberman, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

FAMILY: Husband, Jesse Barrett; seven children.

OTHER DETAILS: Her Roman Catholic faith became an issue during her confirmation hearing last fall to be an appeals court judge. The Senate confirmed her 55-43.

QUOTE: “We shouldn’t be putting people on the court that share our policy preferences. We should be putting people on the court who want to apply the Constitution.” — 2016 speech at Jacksonville University’s Public Policy Institute.

NAME: Thomas Hardiman

AGE-BIRTHDATE: 53, July 8, 1965

BIRTHPLACE: Winchester, Massachusetts.

EDUCATION: B.A., University of Notre Dame, 1987; J.D., Georgetown University Law Center, 1990.

CURRENT JOB: Since 2007: Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.

JOB HISTORY: 2003-2007: Judge, U.S. District Court for Western Pennsylvania; 1990-2003: Private practice, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh.

FAMILY: Wife, Lori Hardiman; three children.

OTHER DETAILS: During his undergraduate years at the University of Notre Dame, he drove a taxi to support himself. Speaks Spanish. He is on the same appeals court as Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, the president’s older sister. The Senate confirmed him 95-0 to his current job in April 2007.

QUOTE: “I have no hesitation in applying a law regardless of what I might think about it. I think any good judge recognizes his or her place in our constitutional government, and that place is not to upset the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives.” — 2006 Senate confirmation hearing.

NAME — Brett M. Kavanaugh

AGE-BIRTHDATE: 53, Feb. 12, 1965

BIRTHPLACE: Washington, D.C.

EDUCATION: B.A., Yale University, 1987; J.D., Yale Law School, 1990.

CURRENT JOB: Since 2006: Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

JOB HISTORY: 2003-2006: Staff secretary to President George W. Bush; 2001-2003: White House counsel’s office; 1999-2001, 1997-98: partner, Kirkland and Ellis law firm; 1998, 1994-1997: associate counsel, Office of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr; 1993-1994: law clerk, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy; 1992-1993: Office of Solicitor General; 1991-1992: law clerk, Judge Alex Kozinski; 1990-1991: law clerk, Judge Walter Stapleton.

FAMILY — Wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh; two daughters.

QUOTE — “To be sure, the constitutional text does not answer all questions. Sometimes the constitutional text is ambiguous, such as the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses. No doubt that’s true. But in far fewer places than one would think. As I like to say to my law clerks and my students, we should not strain to find ambiguity in clarity. And even in those areas where there is true ambiguity, that should not mean ‘anything goes.’ Just because there are two reasonable readings of a constitutional provision or a statute does not mean that the gates are open to a completely free-form approach.” — May 2014.

NAME: Raymond Kethledge

AGE-BIRTHDATE: 51, Dec. 11, 1966

BIRTHPLACE: Summit, New Jersey.

EDUCATION — B.A., University of Michigan, 1989; J.D., University of Michigan law school, 1993.

CURRENT JOB: Since 2008: Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

JOB HISTORY: 2002-2008, 1998-2001, 1994: private practice; 2001-2002: lawyer, Ford Motor Co.; 1997-1998: law clerk, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy; 1995-1997: counsel to U.S. Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich.; 1993-1994: law clerk, Judge Ralph Guy.

FAMILY — Wife, Jessica Levinson Kethledge; one daughter, one son.

QUOTE — “In sum, we will grant that the plaintiffs have shown some risk that Ohio’s execution protocol may cause some degree of pain, at least in some people. But some risk of pain ‘is inherent in any method of execution_no matter how humane.’ And the Constitution does not guarantee ‘a pain-free execution.’ Different people may have different moral intuitions as to whether_taking into account all the relevant circumstances_the potential risk of pain here is acceptable. But the relevant legal standard, as it comes to us, requires the plaintiffs to show that Ohio’s protocol is ‘sure or very likely’ to cause serious pain. The district court did not meaningfully apply that standard here. And the plaintiffs have fallen well short of meeting it.” — June 2017 opinion.

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