He added that two women are among his top candidates for the job.
"It's a great group of intellectual talent", Trump said. The man they will be replacing, Anthony Kennedy, is stepping down at the age of 81.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Friday he hoped the confirmation process would be done "in time for the new justice to begin the fall term of the Supreme Court. the first Monday in October". Among the candidates he's considering are two women, and he told reporters that he might meet with candidates over a golf weekend.
Trump has previously advocated for pro-life judges, but told reporters he would not use Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion, as a litmus test. "I'm going to try and do something like that, but I don't think I'm going to be so specific". That list includes six women. Trump passed over Hardiman in favor of Neil Gorsuch, who has proven to be reliably conservative in his tenure so far and has been a key vote in numerous controversial 5-4 decisions, including the decision to uphold the president's travel ban.
"We know that President Trump has vowed to appoint a justice that will overturn Roe v. Wade", Cler said.
Heitkamp said she stressed the importance of a nominee "who is pragmatic, fair, compassionate, committed to justice, and above politics".
Utah Sen. Mike Lee was on the list. Their political survival depends on being perceived as centrists, and they will now have to spend months campaigning while caught in the crossfire of a liberal-conservative battle royal over a Trump-nominated Supreme Court justice.
The three Democrats have broken with their party when it comes to some of Trump's most important nominations.
On Thursday, Trump brought Murkowski and five other senators to the White House to discuss the vacancy.
Kennedy played a similar role for many years - his votes on gay rights, abortion, the death penalty, the environment, voting rights and affirmative action basically determined the outcome of cases on which the court was divided between liberals and conservatives.
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.
"That will begin immediately", Trump said at the White House.
"On a lot of major decisions, he already has been the swing vote, so it's not an entirely new scenario", said Carrie Severino, the chief counsel and policy director at the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative legal group. And Democrats have a point in noting now that the crux of McConnell's argument - to give voters a say in the process - could also apply to the midterm elections since senators must confirm Supreme Court nominations. "What we're seeing here is Gorsuch 2.0".
"He has been a crucial vote in landmark reproductive rights cases", Northup said. The current record for longest service on the Supreme Court is held by William O. Douglas, who served for 36 years from 1939 to 1975.