President Donald Trump plans to name a Supreme Court justice on Tuesday night, and he has repeatedly promised a conservative to replace the late Antonin Scalia.
"The justices that I'm going to appoint will be pro-life. They will have a conservative bent," Trump said at the third presidential debate in October. "They will be protecting the Second Amendment. They are great scholars in all cases, and they're people of tremendous respect. They will interpret the Constitution the way the founders wanted it interpreted. And I believe that's very, very important."
Trump has reportedly narrowed his search to two candidates. He is considering appeals judges Thomas Hardiman of the Third Circuit in Pennsylvania and Neil Gorsuch of the 10th Circuit in Colorado. Hardiman is 51 and Gorsuch is 49.
The pick, along with other potential choices Trump will have during his time in office, could help to shape the ideological makeup of the nation's top court for years to come.
Currently, eight justices sit on the court, and Trump's pick will help to tip its balance. Chief Justice John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito form the more conservative wing, while Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer fill out the traditionally more liberal wing. Anthony Kennedy is considered a moderate and swing vote.
Then-President Barack Obama picked Merrick Garland, a Washington appeals court judge, to fill the seat last year, but the Republican-controlled Congress never held a vote on the nomination. The stalemate caused frustration for Obama in his final year in office.
Here are Trump's possible choices:
Former President George W. Bush appointed Hardiman to his post in 2007, and he was confirmed by a 95-0 vote. Trump's sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, who sits on the Third Circuit with Hardiman, has spoken to her brother about picking him, according to Politico.
Hardiman has established conservative credentials on the court. He has backed a broad interpretation of gun rights and taken a conservative track in many cases related to law enforcement and crime, according to multiple reports.
However, some Hardiman rulings have led to concerns from conservatives, according to Vox. Those cases largely center around discrimination claims from marginalized groups, the report said.
Hardiman, who grew up in Massachusetts, went to the University of Notre Dame and Georgetown University Law Center. His father ran a taxi company, and he reportedly drove part-time to pay for law school.
Hardiman speaks fluent Spanish, studied in Mexico as an exchange student in college and did volunteer work at an immigration legal aid office, according to The Washington Post.
Gorsuch was nominated to his judgeship in 2006 by Bush. The Senate confirmed him by voice vote.
Gorsuch, who clerked for Kennedy, has also established a reputation of solidly conservative rulings. He has expressed admiration for Scalia, saying in a speech last year that he was "not embarrassed to admit" that he cried his way down the mountain after he heard during a ski run that Scalia had died, according to SCOTUSblog.
Gorsuch is "most noted" for defending religious exemptions for private companies and nonprofit groups related to the Affordable Care Act, The Washington Post reported.
Gorsuch, like Scalia, is described as an originalist, judges who give weight to the text of the Constitution as they believe it was intended to be read at the time.
Gorusch is from Colorado and is an avid outdoorsman.