Washington: Prominent Indian-American judge Amul Thapar has emerged as a "serious" candidate to replace retiring US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy after President Donald Trump interviewed him and three others, a media report said on Tuesday.
Justice Kennedy, 81, announced his retirement from the US Supreme Court last week. He met Trump at the White House soon after he told his colleagues in the Supreme Court that July 31 would be his last day at the apex court.
Thapar, 49, is among the 25 shortlisted judges Trump could nominate to replace Kennedy, The Washington Post reported.
Neither the White House nor Trump himself revealed the names except for saying that he interviewed four potential Supreme Court nominees.
The four interviewed by Trump for the Supreme Court bench are Amul Thapar, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Raymond Kethledge, the report said.
Thapar has the backing of Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader.
"I think he's absolutely brilliant, with the right temperament," he told reporters over the weekend.
Trump's meeting yesterday with Thapar, who lives and works in McConnell's home state of Kentucky, was described by several White House aides as both a gesture of respect for the Senate GOP leader and evidence that he is in "serious" contention, the report added.
"I'll be meeting two or three more and we'll make a decision on the United States Supreme Court, the new justice," Trump said, described the meeting as very interesting.
"That'll be made over the next few days and we'll be announcing it on Monday (July 9), and I look forward to that. I think the person that is chosen will be outstanding," Trump told reporters at the White House.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that Trump was looking for individuals who have the right intellect, the right temperament and will uphold the Constitution.
Trump has also appointed Indian-American Raj Shah to work full time on overseeing the communication efforts associated with the nomination.
"Raj Shah will oversee communications, strategy and messaging coordination with Capitol Hill allies. He will take leave from his role as Principal Deputy Press Secretary to work on the Supreme Court nomination full time," Sanders said.
If nominated and confirmed by Senate, Thapar would replace Kennedy and will be the first Indian-American to be on the bench of the nine-member apex court.
Last year, Trump appointed Thapar, who sits on the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals and a former United States Attorney, for the District of Kentucky and District Judge.
The son of Indian-American immigrants, Thapar is the Nation's first Article III judge of South Asian descent. He was confirmed by the Senate 52-44.
Fox news said yesterday that Thapar would be good for the apex court and good for the Republicans.
He is a "shining example of the success of the four-million strong Indian-American community" which now has the highest median household income in the country, the report said.
According to Fox news, the political benefits of naming Thapar are clear.
"Although Asian voters made up only 4 per cent of the electorate in 2016, they are the fastest growing part of the electorate and a key factor in swing states such as Nevada (11 per cent of the electorate) and Virginia (7 per cent).
"Although they increasingly lean left, Republicans can get their votes. Nevada GOP Senator Dean Heller narrowly won re-election in 2012 by carrying 54 per cent of the Asian vote," it said.