UPDATE: Sept. 18 — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday, creating a vacancy on the high court. ABC News reports Trump is expected to put forth a nominee to replace Ginsburg in the coming days.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday released a shortlist of his potential Supreme Court nominees, a move that could help shore up support from voters prioritizing a conservative high court and federal judiciary.
“Over the next four years, America’s president will choose hundreds of federal judges and, in all likelihood, one, two, three and even four Supreme Court justices,” Trump said in his announcement, after a significant amount of fearmongering about a non-conservative court. “The outcome of these decisions will determine whether we hold fast to our nation’s founding principles or whether they are lost forever.”
“Should there be another vacancy on the Supreme Court during my presidency, my nominee will come from the names I have shared with the American public, including the original list,” he added.
Trump has added 20 candidates to his original list from 2016. The list includes many big names in conservative politics, including Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, as well as GOP Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Texas) and Josh Hawley (Mo.).
The shortlist of potential nominees is as follows:
- Bridget Bade ― Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
- Daniel Cameron ― 51st attorney general of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
- Tom Cotton ― Republican U.S. senator from Arkansas
- Paul Clement ― Partner with Kirkland & Ellis LLP
- Ted Cruz ― Republican U.S. senator from Texas
- Stuart Kyle Duncan ― Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
- Steven Engel ― Assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice
- Noel Francisco ― Former Solicitor General of the United States
- Josh Hawley ― Republican U.S. senator from Missouri
- James Ho ― Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
- Gregory Katsas ― Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- Barbara Lagoa ― Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
- Christopher Landau ― U.S. Ambassador to Mexico
- Carlos Muniz ― Justice on the Florida Supreme Court
- Martha Pacold ― Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- Peter Phipps ― Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit
- Sarah Pitlyk ― Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
- Allison Jones Rushing ― Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
- Kate Todd ― Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Counsel to the President
- Lawrence VanDyke ― Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
Talk of the list picked up this summer after the Supreme Court delivered decisions on protecting people from workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as on maintaining the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that shields nearly 650,000 undocumented people who came to the U.S. as children from deportation.
Both decisions were a blow to the Trump administration, leading the president to announce in June that he planned to release a new list of potential Supreme Court nominees by Sept. 1. Trump said he would select a candidate from that list should there be another vacancy on the high court, but that deadline came and went.
“We’ve been working on the SCOTUS picks, I don’t know that there’s been a delay as much as there has been a whole lot of other priorities that we’ve been working on,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said in June that his campaign is working on a list of specific people to potentially nominate to the Supreme Court, but he has not announced plans to release that list. He has promised to nominate a Black woman if given the opportunity.
However, neither candidate’s list carries much significance if their respective party doesn’t have a majority in the Senate, which confirms the nominations. Republicans currently control the Senate, with 53 of 100 seats.
In his announcement, Trump demanded that Biden release his shortlist of potential Supreme Court nominees “for people to properly make a decision as to how they will vote.”
Trump also decided to publicize his potential Supreme Court picks during the 2016 presidential campaign, releasing an initial list of 11 candidates to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat. He eventually nominated Justice Neil Gorsuch to fill Scalia’s seat, and later nominated Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The Senate confirmed both nominees despite backlash over Republicans’ decision to block Merrick Garland from the high court during the Obama administration, as well as over sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh.
Senate Republicans have worked diligently the past four years to confirm more than 200 of Trump’s judicial nominees to lifetime federal court seats — which is more than any president has confirmed in a first term in decades. All told, Trump has notched two Supreme Court justices, 53 appeals court judges, 147 district court judges and two judges on the U.S. Court of International Trade. His picks are overwhelmingly young, conservative white men with records of being hostile toward voting rights, LGBTQ rights and reproductive rights.
Some of the people who have been added to Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court picks reacted to the news Wednesday.
“As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’ve been proud to help confirm to the bench over 200 of President Trump’s judicial nominees, including two to the Supreme Court,” Cruz wrote in a statement. “It’s humbling and an immense honor to be considered for the Supreme Court.”
Minutes after Trump’s announcement, Cotton tweeted about his wish to dismantle Roe v. Wade ― the landmark 1973 decision that protects a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion without government restriction.
Hawley tweeted that he appreciated Trump considering him as a potential Supreme Court nominee, but said he had plans to take on the role. “As I told the President, Missourians elected me to fight for them in the Senate, and I have no interest in the high court,” he said.
Demand Justice, a progressive group aimed at fighting Trump’s steamrolling of the judicial branch, launched a project this summer called Supreme Court Voter in response to the president making his plan to install more conservative justices a centerpiece of his 2020 campaign.
The group announced Wednesday that the project is beginning a digital ad campaign in key states highlighting the far-right views of several potential nominees on Trump’s list.
“This gambit may have paid off for Trump in 2016, but the politics are different this time around,” Demand Justice Executive Director Brian Fallon said in a statement. “The Kavanaugh confirmation process provoked a major backlash, and Democratic voters are more attuned to the Supreme Court’s importance than ever before.”
“For every base conservative activist that is excited by this new Trump shortlist, there is likely to be a swing voter that will be turned off by the prospect of a Trump supermajority on the Supreme Court.”