Pro-life and pro-choice activists agree that Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement from the Supreme Court opens the door to rolling back the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that created a constitutional right to abortion.
Asked by Fox's Maria Bartiromo whether he would ask potential nominees how they might come down on Roe v. Wade, Trump said: "Well, that's a big one".
The strategy mirrors one Mr Trump has been pursuing for appointments to the lower courts, where younger than normal judges have often been selected. We spoke with retired federal judge John Carroll on what this appointment could mean for issues like abortion.
Among Trump's counselors is Leonard Leo, who is taking a leave of absence as executive vice president of the Federalist Society to serve as an outside adviser in the selection process. But he told reporters on Friday that he would not question potential high-court nominees about their views on abortion, saying it was "inappropriate to discuss". That judicial approach typically involves a more literal interpretation of the Constitution as compared to broader rulings such as Roe. Also of interest are Amul Thapar, who serves on the federal appeals court in Cincinnati, lives in Kentucky and is close to McConnell; Brett Kavanaugh, a former clerk for Kennedy who serves on the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.; and Amy Coney Barrett, who serves on the federal appeals court in Chicago.
Whatever Trump said during his campaign, Leo said abortion did not come up in the president's interviews with prospective nominees when he chose Justice Neil Gorsuch previous year.
But picking an ultra-conservative as his nominee would carry risk because Trump would have to rely on some moderate Republicans to win approval in the U.S. Senate, where his fellow Republicans have a narrow majority.