Family Research Council President Tony Perkins identified Judges Amy Coney Barrett and Thomas Hardiman as the strongest Supreme Court nominees on the issue of abortion, in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Perkins, a major figure in pro-life advocacy, has been involved in discussions with the White House over who should replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. President Donald Trump has indicated he will consider approximately six to seven nominees.
“I think the president’s base of support needs to go into this with no ambiguity over a person’s position on their constitutional understanding of the right to life,” Perkins told TheDCNF. “Of the two I think Amy Barrett is the one that would, I think, immediately rally the president’s base of support.”
TheDCNF reported Monday that Trump’s top two contenders to replace Kennedy are Barrett and Judge Brett Kavanaugh, though Judge Raymond Kethledge is said to also be liked by the president.
Perkins noted that support from the religious right — particularly on judicial confirmations — has been essential for Trump’s political success. Private polling the FRC commissioned before the 2016 presidential found that seven out of 10 church-goers believe the Supreme Court has a major effect on their daily lives.
Since these voters helped carry Trump to victory, Perkins has advised the White House to select a nominee who will mobilize Christian conservatives.
“My counsel has been to make sure we get someone who has an impeccable record when it comes to the issue of life not one that is questionable or shaded,” he told TheDCNF. (RELATED: Mike Lee Not Under Consideration For The Supreme Court)
Perkins stressed that any candidate under consideration would likely be acceptable to conservatives, though he said Kavanaugh’s nomination could diminish enthusiasm among the president’s core supporters.
For those on the pro-life right, Kavanaugh’s credibility was damaged in a recent D.C. Circuit case in which he attempted to broker a compromise between the Trump administration and an alien minor in federal custody who was seeking to terminate her pregnancy. The government argued they had no obligation to facilitate abortions, while ACLU lawyers representing the migrant claimed the government’s policy amounted to an illegal undue burden on abortion access.
Kavanaugh wrote an order for a three-judge panel giving the administration 11 days to find the migrant a U.S. guardian who could procure the abortion without involving the government. Whatever the tactical wisdom of that move, Perkins noted the pro-life movement is wary of compromising on abortion.
“That issue is something that would be raised in this that could dampen to a degree, and I say to a degree, the enthusiasm,” Perkins said.
The full D.C. Circuit ultimately overturned that decision, and Kavanaugh blasted the majority in dissent.
The president will announce his nominee for the high court on July 9.
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