The top local stories this evening from KERA News:
President Trump is expected to announce his pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy tonight. Trump is picking from a shortlist of candidates who have undergone a vetting process.
Emily Berman, an assistant professor at the University of Houston Law Center, told Houston Public Media that the vetting process for Supreme Court picks varies with each administration.
“I would break it down into there's sort of insider key players and outsider key players,” Berman said. “The White House Counsel and the White House Counsel’s Office always plays an important role. Usually the Attorney General and people in the Justice Department are also quite involved. In this administration, my understanding is that the White House Counsel Don McGahn is really driving the boat.”
One of the major outside groups involved in the vetting process is the Federalist Society, which has worked since the Reagan administration to place more conservative judges throughout the judiciary. While the final decision is in the president's hands, the Federalist Society plays a role in shaping the candidate pool.
“There are certainly sufficiently numerous qualified people that [Trump] will always have several from which to choose among,” said Berman. “But who actually gets onto that short list, at least when it comes to Republican presidents recently, has been highly influenced by Federalist Society members.”
Once the president announces a nominee, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a confirmation hearing. Both Texas senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, serve on that committee. Cruz has endorsed fellow Sen. Mike Lee for the slot, but Lee is reportedly not among the president's top picks.
Other stories this evening:
- Leaders of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs say nearly $3 million has been donated to help victims and their families after more than two dozen worshippers died in a mass shooting last year. The San Antonio Express-News reports that $840,000 was designated for victim relief. About $2 million wasn't designated by donors, and the remaining $130,000 was donated for a memorial, a food pantry and funerals.
- In the era of Facebook and Twitter, it may feel like we're more connected than ever. But sometimes those tools can uncover our social divides. The novel "All We Ever Wanted" focuses on two households separated by race and class, as they are upended by a scandal that plays out on social media. Today on Think, guest host Courtney Collins talked with author Emily Giffin on how privilege can shape a person's character.
- At least 50 immigrant children under the age of 5 are expected to be released with their parents by Tuesday’s court-ordered deadline for the Trump administration to reunify families forcibly separated at the border. More than 2,000 children were separated from their parents this spring before President Trump reversed course amid international outcry. Jenifer Wolf Williams is a trauma therapist based in Richardson. In recent years, she's helped immigrants separated from their loved ones, from families applying for asylum to children who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. She talked to KERA’s Justin Martin about the impact that separation can have on families.
You can listen to North Texas stories weekdays at 8:22 a.m. and 6:20 p.m. on KERA 90.1 FM.