“This president had a vision,” Leo said. “He did something entrepreneurial and different. He had a very clear sense of what he wanted, he spent a lot of time asking questions about [the late] Justice [Antonin] Scalia and Justice [Clarence] Thomas and other members of the court, and he got to know Justice Kennedy a little bit. I have been really impressed with how he conducted this process. He’s in control of it.”…
Trump has told advisers he is looking for three overarching attributes in a replacement for Kennedy. First, one adviser said, Trump insists upon an “extraordinarily well qualified” nominee with a superlative résumé. The president is especially drawn to contenders with name-brand degrees, such as from Ivy League universities such as Harvard or Yale. He also wants to see a portfolio of solid academic writing, though this adviser acknowledged that Trump does not care to read it; he simply wants to know it exists.
Secondly, Trump has said it is essential his nominee be “not weak,” meaning someone with independent judgment and the courage to buck “the political and social fashions of the day,” as the adviser put it.
Thirdly, Trump privately says he wants a nominee who will “interpret the Constitution the way the framers meant it to be,” according to the adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to relate a private discussion with the president.