Top contenders to fill vacant Supreme Court seat include Coney Barrett, Hardiman

Each of these names is on President Trump's list of possible nominees

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves vacant a crucial seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Based on reporting prior to her sudden death, here are some of the top contenders to fill that seat, should President Trump choose to nominate someone.

Each of these names is on Trump's list of possible nominees, a list he has said he would rely on when making any selection.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals

Born in 1972, Coney Barrett is a former Notre Dame Law School professor. Her 2017 confirmation to the federal bench was contentious, with several Democratic senators questioning whether her faith -- expressed in prior speeches -- would influence her jurisprudence. "The dogma lives loudly within you, and that's a concern," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Barrett responded, "It's never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge's personal convictions, whether they arise from faith or anywhere else, on the law." Barrett was a former law clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

This 2017 photo provided by the University of Notre Dame Law School in South Bend, Ind., shows Judge Amy Coney Barrett. (Notre Dame via AP)

This 2017 photo provided by the University of Notre Dame Law School in South Bend, Ind., shows Judge Amy Coney Barrett. (Notre Dame via AP) (University of Notre Dame Law School, File)

Judge Britt Grant, 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, Atlanta

Born in 1978, Grant is a former justice on the Georgia Supreme Court. Prior to her state appointment in 2017, Grant served as the Georgia Solicitor General, and as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP.  She served as a law clerk to then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the DC Circuit. He swore her in to her current post in August 2018, in the middle of his own high court confirmation.

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Judge Amul Thapar, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, chambers in Covington

Born in 1969, Thapar was the first federal district court judge of South Asian descent, named in 2007. Trump interviewed him personally for the Scalia seat while still a district judge, then became the president's second judicial pick when he was elevated to the appeals court. Thapar was previously a U.S. Attorney.

Judge Steven Colloton, 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, chambers in Des Moines

Born in 1963, Colloton was a President George W. Bush appointee and former law clerk to the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Colloton is a former Justice Department lawyer, U.S. Attorney in Iowa, and lawyer in the Starr Independent Counsel investigation of President Bill Clinton.

Judge Allison Eid, 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, chambers in Denver

Born in 1965, Eid is a former law clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas. She also worked at the Department of Education for William Bennett, and was the former solicitor general of Colorado. She joined the Colorado Supreme Court in 2006, then took the federal appeals court seat in 2017 vacated by Neil Gorsuch when he became a justice.

Judge Raymond Gruender, 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, chambers in St. Louis

Born in 1963, Gruender is a conservative colleague of Colloton and a former U.S. Attorney. He authored a 2008 opinion upholding South Dakota's "informed consent" for those seeking an abortion to be told about the consequences of the procedure.

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Judge Thomas Hardiman, 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, chambers in Pittsburgh

Born in 1965, Hardiman was a President George W. Bush nominee. The Supreme Court affirmed his 2010 ruling that a jail policy of strip-searching all those arrested does not violate the Fourth Amendment's ban on "unreasonable searches and seizures."

FILE - In this March 8, 2017, file photo, Judge Thomas Hardiman smiles during a meeting with The Associated Press in Philadelphia. Hardiman is one of four judges thought to be President Donald Trump’s top contenders to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

FILE - In this March 8, 2017, file photo, Judge Thomas Hardiman smiles during a meeting with The Associated Press in Philadelphia. Hardiman is one of four judges thought to be President Donald Trump’s top contenders to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File) (AP, File)

Judge Raymond Kethledge, 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, chambers in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Born in 1966, Kethledge clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy and was in private practice before joining the appeals court in 2008. But it took more than two years to get the nomination confirmed, after Michigan's two Democratic U.S. senators raised objections in a larger fight over Bush's judicial nominees.

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Judge Joan Larsen, 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals

Born in 1968, Larsen was a former law clerk to Scalia, who delivered one of the tributes to the late justice at his memorial service in March. She served in the Justice Department office that produced the legal justifications for the enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, that critics have called torture. She was on the Michigan Supreme Court only since 2015, winning a state election a year later, when she was tapped for the federal bench in 2017.

Judge Barbara Lagoa, 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals

Born in 1967, Lagoa is a former Florida Supreme Court justice, appointed in 2019 by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the first Cuban American woman to serve on that court. She was nominated to the 11th Circuit by Trump in October 2019.

Justice Thomas Lee, Utah Supreme Court

Born in 1964 to a prominent political and legal family, Lee is the son of Rex Lee, a former solicitor general in the Reagan Justice Department, and the brother of Mike Lee, a U.S. senator, who is also on Trump's list. Lee clerked for Justice Thomas and teaches part-time at Brigham Young's law school.

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Judge David Stras, 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, chambers in Minneapolis

Born in 1974, Stras served on the Minnesota Supreme Court and is believed to be the first Jewish member of the state's high court. He, too, clerked for Justice Thomas and once headed the Institute for Law and Justice, a well-respected academic think tank on public policy and judicial politics. Stras was nominated in 2017 to sit on the appeals court.

Judge Allison Jones Rushing, 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals

Born in 1982, Rushing clerked for Thomas and then-Judge Gorsuch before being appointed in 2019 by Trump.

Judge Don Willett, 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, chambers in Austin

Born in 1966, Willett worked in the George W. Bush presidential campaign and administration in various roles, before joining the Texas Supreme Court. One of seven finalists to fill the Scalia vacancy, Willett was nominated to the federal bench by Trump. He is perhaps best known for his heavy use of social media and his Twitter handle, @justicewillett, which has more than 98,000 followers. But speaking in that capacity, Willett has repeatedly tweaked Trump on Twitter, such as this mock quote from the GOP nominee: "'We'll rebuild the Death Star. It'll be amazing, believe me. And the rebels will pay for it.'   --Darth Trump"

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