President Trump to announce Supreme Court nominee on Tuesday night

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will announce his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday night.

The president said on Twitter on Monday morning that he has made his decision and will make the announcement at 6 p.m. MST from the White House.

After the death of late Justice Antonin Scalia, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, but the Republican majority prevented his confirmation.

This move maintained the vacancy on the court — leaving a space open for Trump to make his pick.

Scalia was a right-leaning voice on the court, and Trump’s pick is expected to fill his place. Trump said in an interview with “60 Minutes” after he was elected that although he thought the issue of same-sex marriage was “settled,” he planned to appoint anti-abortion rights justices.

Trump had originally said he would announce his Supreme Court pick on Thursday.

One person reported last week to be near the top of the list is Judge Neil Gorsuch, who sits on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals based in Denver.

Trump said on the campaign trail that he would look at judges William Pryor and Diane Sykes as top contenders, and has touted a list of 20 possible choices from conservative legal circles.

Sources last week said Gorsuch had emerged on top of the list as well as Judge Thomas Hardiman.

Gorsuch’s quick ascent is due to a combination of factors, including his track record, demeanor and the impression he has made on Trump and the small circle advising him on how to replace Scalia.

Another factor — one beyond Gorsuch’s control — is likely also in play: The fiery atmosphere on Capitol Hill as Democrats vow to make the Supreme Court hearings one of the biggest fights in the early days of the Trump presidency.