STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
The comments on President Trump's chance to nominate a Supreme Court justice include some from Lindsey Graham. The South Carolina Republican says he hopes not to make the choice a referendum on abortion, and he says to, quote, "my pro-life friends," that conservatives can believe in the legal concept that some cases are already decided. Still, the president has said he will choose from a list of possible justices already cleared by conservatives, so can this be more than a referendum on one issue? NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley is here.
Hey there, Scott.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: How's the president trying to smooth this out?
HORSLEY: Well, look; the president made it very clear, when he campaigned in 2016 that he would use his opportunity, if it arose, to appoint Supreme Court justices who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. That list you mention of conservative potential nominees was a big selling point for this president with social conservatives. Whether they took him literally or seriously, they expect him to point - to a point, to nominate judges who would take a hard line on Roe v. Wade. Now, the president was talking with reporters on Friday. He said he wouldn't ask candidates about that directly, and he reiterated that in an interview with Fox Business News [see correction below].
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES")
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don't think I'm going to be so specific in the questions I'll be answering. And I'm actually told that I shouldn't be.
HORSLEY: You know, the president doesn't really need to, though, because the folks at the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation who put together this list - they knew what he was looking for.
INSKEEP: Well, let's listen to one of the Republicans the president will be counting on. It's 51-49 in the Senate, so they can only lose one Republican if no Democrats were to go along, which we don't really know about. But Maine's Susan Collins spoke on CNN yesterday and said this.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "STATE OF THE UNION")
SUSAN COLLINS: I would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade.
INSKEEP: Does that amount to a roadblock?
HORSLEY: Not necessarily. You know, the president can just avoid that by picking a nominee whose hostility to Roe v. Wade has been kept under wraps. Again, the...
INSKEEP: Oh, because she said demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade. OK.
HORSLEY: And we have a tradition now of conservative nominees going before the Judiciary Committee and saying, well, Senator, I wouldn't want to prejudge that issue since it might come before me. What Senator Collins said is she's looking for someone who would respect the precedent of Roe v. Wade. But, again, the president was very clear during the campaign what he was looking for, and we've already seen this court turn its back on precedents just in the last week or so.
INSKEEP: Scott, one other thing to ask about this was a weekend of protests in Washington, D.C., and, in fact, in many other cities across the country - people protesting the administration's immigration policies, including the recent and not yet fully corrected separation of families. Is the White House responding?
HORSLEY: You know, the president did backtrack on family separation against a huge public backlash, but otherwise, he continues to insist on a get-tough immigration policy. The White House is now planning to keep families together but to keep them indefinitely, and they've ordered the construction of tent cities to accommodate that on military bases. So no, the president is not really backing away from a get-tough policy on immigration. He thinks that's a winner for Republicans in November.
INSKEEP: NPR's Scott Horsley, thanks.
HORSLEY: You're welcome.
[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: This report incorrectly cites an interview the president gave to Fox Business News. The correct name is Fox Business Network.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.