Speed Reads

supreme strategizing

The White House is already preparing to fill its next Supreme Court seat

The Senate will vote Thursday morning whether to end debate and hold a vote on President Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Trump tapped Gorsuch to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose seat has been held vacant by Republican leadership for more than a year; Democrats plan to filibuster the cloture vote, forcing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to change Senate rules to allow Gorsuch to be confirmed by a simple majority.

But despite the fiery partisan battle taking place on Capitol Hill over his first Supreme Court pick, President Trump is apparently already gearing up for round two. Politico reports the White House has its eye on 80-year-old justice Anthony Kennedy, who has served as the court's de facto swing vote for years — and with whom the Trump team is confident it has an in:

Replacing [Kennedy] with a reliable conservative would tip the court to the right, even if no other seat comes open under Trump — whose team has taken to exploring every imaginable line of communication to keep tabs on the justice and to make him comfortable as he ponders a potential retirement. One back channel is the fact that Kennedy's son, Justin, knows Donald Trump, Jr. through New York real estate circles. Another is through Kennedy's other son, Gregory, and Trump's Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel. [Politico]

Not to be forgotten, Politico also notes Trump's eldest daughter Ivanka and her daughter were guests of Justice Kennedy at Supreme Court oral arguments in February. And while sources familiar with Trump's judicial-selection process told Politico that they're not pressuring Kennedy to retire, but only seeking to make sure he would feel comfortable doing so under President Trump, it seems the White House has thinly veiled hopes. Read more about Trump's judicial decisions — including how he might choose judges for lower courts — at Politico.