As Trump prepares Supreme Court pick, Roe v. Wade top of mind for many

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President Donald Trump is closing in on his next Supreme Court nominee, with three federal judges leading the competition to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. (WLS)

President Donald Trump is closing in on his next Supreme Court nominee, with three federal judges leading the competition to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Trump's top contenders for the vacancy at this time are federal appeals judges Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Raymond Kethledge, said a person familiar with Trump's thinking who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Trump is choosing his nominee from a list of 25 candidates vetted by conservative groups. Other contenders that have received serious interest include federal appeals judges Amul Thapar, Thomas Hardiman and Joan Larsen.

As Trump's announcement nears, many have the future of Roe v. Wade top of mind.

Trump headed out of town to Montana Thursday.

"We're going to hit a home run," said Trump.

Based on his short list, a home run for Trump could mean a strike out for pro-choice and civil rights groups.

"The stakes couldn't be higher, we cannot allow our daughters and granddaughters to have few rights than we do," said Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

Welch said a woman's legal right to abortion is on the line if any of President's Trump's Supreme Court candidates are confirmed.

"It's obvious he has made pro-life issues a priority in his administration, their concern is absolutely valid and I'm happy to embrace that," said Mary Kate Knorr, Illinois Right to Life executive director.

Knorr praised President Trump for keeping his promises to the pro-life movement, but the ACLU Illinois said a Supreme Court pick should not be about political promises and personal agendas.

"We need someone who doesn't bring a dogmatic, sighted perspective to these issues but rather comes openly and looks at each issue independently," said Ed Yohnka, ACLU of Illinois.

While no one knows for sure how each of the president's candidates will vote on certain issues, Carolyn Shapiro, a Supreme Court expert with Kent College of Law, said overturning Roe v. Wade may be a safe bet based on how Trump came up with his list of nominees.

"We know the list was put together by the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation, those are two organizations that are devoted to a very, very conservative vision of law," said Shapiro.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned. It is up to the states to ban abortion or allow it. Planned Parenthood said. Every state surrounding Illinois is poised to ban access to abortion. Illinois law protects it.

Trump conducted interviews on Monday and Tuesday and has spoken to seven possible candidates. He has not yet publicly indicated that he has narrowed the list and could still consider others in the mix.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has told colleagues he may not vote for Kavanaugh if the judge is nominated, citing Kavanaugh's role during the Bush administration on cases involving executive privilege and the disclosure of documents to Congress, said a person familiar with Paul's conversations who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

On Wednesday, Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, reiterated that she could not vote for a nominee with a "demonstrated hostility" to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a woman's right to an abortion.

"I think I've made it pretty clear if a nominee has demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade and has said that they're not going to abide by that long-standing precedent, that I could not support that nominee," Collins told reporters at a holiday parade in Bangor.

But Collins said she also wouldn't blindly vote to confirm someone she thinks is unworthy in other respects - even if he or she supports Roe v. Wade.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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politicsdonald trumpsupreme courtPresident Donald TrumpWashington D.C.
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