President Donald Trump interviewed four possible Supreme Court justices and plans to speak to more candidates about the job, he said Monday.
"They are outstanding people. They are really incredible people, in so many different ways," the president said during a visit with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
The president plans to announce his replacement for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on July 9. Trump said he will make his decision "over the next few days." He said he plans to interview two or three more candidates.
Trump gets to make his second choice for the nation's top court of his presidency. His pick to fill Kennedy's seat, along with 50-year-old conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, will help to define the court's path for decades to come.
On Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders would not say who the president met.
Last week, the president described his possible choices as "highly talented, very brilliant, mostly conservative judges."
Trump has a shortlist of 25 candidates from which he plans to choose a nominee. Potential choices include Judge Thomas Hardiman of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Judges Raymond Kethledge and Amul Thapar of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Whomever Trump chooses will face a tense confirmation fight in the narrowly divided Senate. As Kennedy announced his retirement a few months before November's midterm elections, it heightened the political stakes of the confirmation process for his successor.
Some key Democrats have argued the Senate should wait to vote on another justice until after the elections, when the minority party has a chance to flip control of the chamber. Others have raised concerns about the justice's possible effect on women's health care, worrying a new court would lead to the weakening or overturning of Roe v. Wade, the decision which legalized abortion nationwide.
Gorsuch only got through last year after Republicans ended the legislative filibuster for the Supreme Court. Taking the so-called nuclear option lowered the threshold for confirmation to only a majority vote, rather than the previous 60.
Two Republican swing votes in the Senate — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — could decide whether to vote for a court choice depending on what they say about overturning the Roe decision.