Trump to choose Supreme Court justice nominee on Feb. 2

FILE PHOTO -- A general view of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he will make his choice to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 2 as he seeks to restore the conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

Trump announced the date in Twitter message one day after meeting with key U.S. senators and promising to unveil his nominee to fill the vacancy left by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia nearly a year ago.

Three U.S. appeals court judges are among those under close consideration by Trump, who took office last Friday and had said he would act on a nominee next week.

Appointment as a Supreme Court justice requires Senate confirmation for the lifetime post. Trump’s fellow Republicans control the Senate with a 52-48 majority, but Democrats could potentially try to block the nomination using procedural hurdles.

On Tuesday, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said he told Trump in the meeting that Democrats would fight any nominee they consider to be outside the mainstream.

Trump is in position to name Scalia’s replacement because the Republican-led U.S. Senate last year refused to consider Democratic President Barack Obama’s nominee, appeals court judge Merrick Garland.

The current frontrunners include three conservative jurists who were appointed to the bench by Republican former President George W. Bush: Neil Gorsuch, a judge on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Thomas Hardiman, who serves on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; and William Pryor, a judge on the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]

[/box]

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley, Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Frances Kerry)