NYT - WASHINGTON — Pledging to move quickly to fulfill what he has called the most important promise of his campaign, President-elect Donald J. Trump said on Wednesday that he would name a nominee to the Supreme Court “within about two weeks” of his inauguration on Jan. 20.
At a news conference in Trump Tower, he thanked the leaders of two prominent conservative groups for their help in vetting candidates, a strong indication that his main priority remains choosing an unwavering conservative to fill the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last February.
Democrats are promising a furious fight over any nominee they consider to be out of the legal mainstream, saying that Republicans effectively stole a Supreme Court seat from President Obama by refusing for almost a year to consider his nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland, a respected appeals court judge with a moderate record.
Mr. Trump had not commented publicly about his plans for a Supreme Court nomination since his election, but in his remarks, he stressed the central role the court had played in his campaign.
“I think it’s one of the reasons I got elected,” Mr. Trump said. “I think the people of this country did not want to see what was happening with the Supreme Court, so I think it was a very, very big decision as to why I was elected.”
In the two months since the election, Mr. Trump and his advisers have been scouring the records and backgrounds of potential nominees, a transition official said. .They now have a list of about a half-dozen names, paring it from the 20 or so that they started with.
The vetting process has sought to identify candidates who are old enough to have established a substantial and consistent record of conservative jurisprudence, young enough to be able to serve on the Supreme Court for two decades or more, and reliable enough not to drift to the left over the years. “I want someone who is not weak,” Mr. Trump told his team, the official said.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said last week that Democrats are prepared to try to keep Justice Scalia’s seat open indefinitely. (read entire story)