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Four possible SCOTUS nominees are Notre Dame alums

Judge Amy Barrett // Photo provided

The president is expected to announce his nomination to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy soon

There's a list of possible replacements -- and four are Notre Dame alums.

This vacancy is setting up a showdown for the president.

Experts say now that the Republicans majority has been reduced in the Senate, President Trump will have to push for support for his nominee.

One is a relative newcomer and a former Notre Dame graduate and law professor.

Political experts say Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement means the major change is on the way for highest court in the land.

"His critics and opponents would say he's very capricious and whimsical in how he voted on cases,” said Sean Savage, professor of Political Science at Saint Mary's College. “Maybe just flipping a coin or depending on which side of the bed he wakes up on, but there's a certain consistency."

Kennedy tended to vote with liberal justices on social issues like abortion rights, and with conservatives on states’ rights.

President Trump's Supreme Court nominee will likely be a reliable conservative.

Savage says it would be surprising if another conservative white male is selected. He believes the president will choose either a minority or a woman, like Judge Amy Barrett.

Barrett, a former Notre Dame law professor, was narrowly confirmed to the 7th US Circuit Court in November.

Senator Joe Donnelly voted for Barrett's confirmation. She was confirmed by the Senate 55-43.

"I think the relatively brief experience she has had as a federal court judge could be brought up,” said Savage. “On the other hand, what Trump and a lot of his supporters claim was a sort of anti-Catholic prejudice they claim during her nomination hearings."

Savage says with a more conservative court, the Supreme Court would be more than likely to uphold state laws.

"One element of conservatism is a belief in federalism,” said Savage. “That it's not up to us on the Supreme Court to question, as the saying goes, the wisdom of legislation."

The other Notre Dame alums are judges Thomas Hardiman, Federico Moreno, and Margaret Ryan. Some analysts are calling Barrett a top contender.

President Trump says he plans to announce his pick on July 9.

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