Supreme Court nomination has become a campaign issue

Bill Clark  Getty Images Cherry blossoms frame the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington

President Trump has begun interviewing possible nominees for the Supreme Court seat that will become open when Justice Anthony Kennedy retires at the end of the month.

"I'll be meeting with two or three more, and we'll make a decision on the United States Supreme Court - the new justice - that'll be made over the next few days and we'll be announcing it on Monday", he said.

However, the senator later said she would be looking to precedent in her vote on Supreme Court nominees, suggesting Roe v. Wade would have an impact on her decision. The White House has also yet to announce who will shepherd the nominee through the Senate confirmation process, acting as the nominee's "sherpa".

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine and Sen.

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His republican opponent, Corey Stewart, has called on the president to nominate someone who will "move the court further in a conservative direction that respects the Constitution and our freedoms".

Abortion rights is emerging as a litmus test for the next Supreme Court nominee, with Democrats and at least one moderate Republican declaring they wouldn't support a nominee who opposes the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that established a woman's right to abortion. "You shouldn't do that.' But I'm putting conservative people on", Trump also said.

But she emphasized that they had to talk about precedent.

The other top potential nominees are Thomas Hardiman, who serves on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Raymond Kethledge of the Cincinnati, Ohio-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Amul Thapar, whom Trump named to the 6th Circuit. Even though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell changed Senate rules a year ago to allow confirmation by simple majority, if Democrats hold together, he can not afford defections. Collins, who appeared on ABC's "This Week" and CNN's "State of the Union", said she would only back a judge who would show respect for settled law such as the Roe decision, which has always been anathema to conservatives. She said she will share that and other comments with the president. Bob Casey Jr. (D) said Trump is wrongly limiting himself to a list of 25 names released by the White House.

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Trump's second appointment to the nation's high court, promised for July 9, is set to come from an unnamed pool that he told reporters last week has been narrowed to five people, including two women.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Justin Clark, director of the Office of Public Liaison, "will oversee White House outreach with key constituencies, coalitions, grassroots organizations and allies".

NARAL Pro-choice America has purchased ads targeting Sen.

And if the votes result in a tie, Vice President Pence will hold the tie-breaking vote-and his anti-abortion stance is well-known.

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Collins-she said in a Sunday interview on ABC's This Week that she could only vote for a judge that respects precedent.

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