WASHINGTON — They’re all younger than 55 and conservative enough to make a first cut. But the four judges who are apparently the finalists for President Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court nomination are being measured against a set of questions that go well beyond age and ideology.
Raymond Kethledge is rumored to be on the short list – although Kethledge has maintained a lower profile and considered a bit of a long shot.
Presidents weigh all sorts of considerations in deciding on a Supreme Court nominee, often beginning with the big question: Will the choice be confirmed by the Senate?
Academic credentials, professional experience and sometimes even gender, race and geographical diversity all can be part of the equation.
The stakes are sky high for filling the opening created by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s imminent retirement. The new justice has the potential to entrench conservative control of the Supreme Court for years to come.
Here are some of the pluses and minuses for Raymond Kethledge.
Background on Raymond Kethledge
Current position: Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, hearing federal appeals from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee
Education: Kethledge attended the University of Michigan for both undergraduate and law school.
Distinction: Kethledge has first-hand experience with Congress. For about a year and a half in the 1990s, Kethledge was counsel to Republican Sen. Spencer Abraham of Michigan. If Kethledge is the nominee, that experience working for Congress could help in the customary courtesy visits to senators before a confirmation hearing.
Track record: Kethledge’s ten years as a federal appeals court judge give him a long record of conservative opinions that may make Trump and Republican senators feel secure about the kind of Supreme Court justice he’d be.
He’s written opinions siding against unions in a dues collection case, admonishing the IRS in a case about its targeting of conservative groups and okaying broad access by the government to cellphone location data, an opinion overturned last month by the Supreme Court. He’s also seen as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.
Private life: His home is Michigan. According to his Wikipedia page, Kethledge is married to Jessica Levinson Kethledge, who worked for the Red Cross. They have a son and daughter. When back home, he works from an office he created in a family barn near Lake Huron. He has spoken publicly about hunting with his son in the Michigan wilderness.
Support for nomination: Kethledge left Washington to return to Michigan two decades ago. He probably has fewer friends in the nation’s capital than Kavanaugh, but Trump may put value on the fact he’s an outsider and less well known in Washington. In addition, Trump is thought to be looking for a nominee with superior academic credentials. That could be a problem for Kethledge if what Trump really meant was that he wants an Ivy Leaguer, like the rest of the high court.