Trump May Get Third Supreme Court Pick, but He Wouldn’t Be the First

George Washington, as the first president, had the most appointments among the nation's 45 chief executives

President Donald Trump plans to announce his second U.S. Supreme Court nomination Monday at 9 p.m. Eastern time, which could well leave him with an opportunity to do something only six of his predecessors have ever done: make a third pick for the nation’s highest tribunal.

Trump would be the seventh president who had the chance to nominate a third justice. Such an outcome is quite possible, especially if he wins a second Oval Office term in 2020.

Assuming the second Trump nominee is confirmed, court observers believe there would be a strong 6-3 conservative majority on many major decisions.

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A dozen presidents have nominated more than three justices to the court, with George Washington coming in first with the most — 11 picks — not including those who declined or withdrew, with all but one being confirmed. As the first president, Washington was essentially tasked with building the court.

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Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was the only chief executive elected to four terms in the White House, had the second most, at nine nominations, all of which were confirmed.

Four presidents were able to nominate five people to the court, and six named four, not including nominees who declined or withdrew.

Judges Thomas Hardiman, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Amul Thapar, and Raymond Kethledge are on Trump’s shortlist of possible nominees.

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Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed in 2017 as Trump’s first nominee. Gorsuch’s appointment rankled Senate Democrats because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to allow hearings in 2016 for former President Barack Obama’s selection of Judge Merrick Garland to replace the deceased Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Supreme Court had an unusually busy 2017-2018 term, marked by a half-dozen major decisions and the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, which prompted Trump’s second opportunity to name a new associate justice.

The court issued decisions involving mandatory union dues, the travel ban, sports gambling, religious rights, voting rights, abortion, and more in what became major victories for conservatives.

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