Trump says will announce Supreme Court pick next week

US President Donald Trump says he will announce his Supreme Court nominee choice next week. VIDEO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON DC, UNITED STATES (REUTERS) - President Donald Trump planned to meet with Senate leaders on Tuesday (Jan 31) to discuss his nominee to serve on the US Supreme Court and said he planned to announce his choice next week.

Trump's nominee will fill the vacancy left on the nine-seat court following the death of long-serving conservative Justice Antonin Scalia on Feb 13 at age 79. The lifetime appointment as a Supreme Court justice requires Senate confirmation.

Tuesday's meeting will include Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Charles Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee that will consider the high court nominee, according to McConnell. Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, will also attend, McConnell said.

Trump got the opportunity to name Scalia's replacement only because the Republican-led US Senate, in an action with little precedent in US history, refused to consider Democratic President Barack Obama's nominee for the post, appeals court judge Merrick Garland.

Obama, who handed over power to Trump on Friday, nominated Garland on March 16, but Republican senators led by McConnell denied Garland the customary confirmation hearings and vote.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office he would be announcing his choice next week.

"We have outstanding candidates and we will pick a truly great Supreme Court justice and I'll be announcing it sometime next week," he said.