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Trump: Supreme Court pick within 2 weeks of inauguration

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Cherry blossom trees bloom on the grounds of the U.S. Supreme Court.

NEW YORK — President-elect Donald Trump says he will nominate a Supreme Court justice within the first two weeks of taking office for the seat of the late Antonin Scalia.

At his news conference Wednesday, Trump said “we’ve met” with numerous candidates, and indicated he’s working off a list of 20 potential nominees he released during the campaign.

The list is made up of mostly federal appellate court judges including Judge William Pryor, Diane Sykes, Steven Colloton, Neil Gorsuch, Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman. Joan Larson, who sits on the Michigan Supreme Court, is also near the top of Trump’s list.

“I have a list of 20. I have gone through them. We’ve met with numerous candidates. They’re outstanding in every case,” Trump said.

Transition officials did not say whether Trump himself has met with potential court nominees.

“I’ll be making the decision on who we will put up … that will be probably within two weeks of the 20th,” Trump said.

The Federalist Society’s Leo Leonard, Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint and some senators are also involved in the process, Trump said.

Sources say that the goal is to get a new justice on the bench by the last sitting of the Court which begins on April 17. That would likely require hearings sometime in March.

Democrats are gearing up for the hearings and they refer to the seat as being “stolen” by Senate Republicans who declined to hold hearings fro President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland.

“Let’s see who they nominate,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week to reporters. “If they’re in the mainstream we’ll give them a very careful look. If they’re out of the mainstream we’ll oppose them tooth and nail.”