Opinion

Who is on Trump's Supreme Court shortlist?

Now that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed at 87, it is possible that her open seat will be filled before the end of this presidential term.

Nicole Russell Texas, US
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Trump recently added to his shortlist of potential Supreme Court of the United States' (SCOTUS)--one of the top reasons his base will vote for him. It included several textualist judges, and a few throwaway names likely meant to satiate a certain type of voter. Now that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed at 87, it is possible that her open seat will be filled before the end of this presidential term.

The majority of the new potential nominees are male, white, and young. Age is an important factor here given SCOTUS appointments are for life—Justices Stephen Breyer is 82, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at 87. Some of the names are clear contenders with stellar records of jurisprudence. Other names seem to exist on the list only to excite Trump’s base, even though they likely won’t accept the nomination or otherwise become a nominee.

Conservatives seemed to have mixed feelings when they discovered three Republican senators on it: Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley. Cotton signaled in a tweet he would be interested, smacking conservative voters in the head with the issue many are passionate about eradicating: abortion. Although I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be with a nominee set on an agenda that is far from possible—even though I’m passionately pro-life.

Ted Cruz made Trump’s list and said he was “honored” but I think it’s clear he is a much better politician and policy maker than potential Justice. Still, for some reason, his name on the list excites the base.

Josh Hawley landed on the list but immediately tweeted he had “no interest in the high court.” Hawley need not worry. His name was also a virtue signal to conservatives who dream about the possibility, but in real life, would find the pick to be a nightmare.

There are a few of Trump’s most promising picks and who have incredible legal bona fides. Though not a judge, Noel Francisco is the former U.S. Solicitor General and a ferocious litigator who has appeared before the Supreme Court in arguments many times and won. James Ho of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit is a textualist whose opinions I have long admired. I’d wager he is the underdog who deserves far more consideration and credit than he will get.

Barbara Lagoa, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, seems like the kind of pick any Democrat lauding feminism would love: She’s a former Justice on the Florida Supreme Court and Cuban-American.

Though he released this list a week before Ginsburg's death, the shortlist has now moved away from the hypothetical.

The additions to the list are:

  • Bridget Bade (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit)
  • Daniel Cameron (Kentucky attorney general)
  • Paul Clement (former solicitor general of the United States)
  • Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.)
  • Stuart Kyle Duncan (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit)
  • Steven Engel (Office of Legal Counsel, DOJ)
  • Noel Francisco (former solicitor general of the United States)
  • Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)
  • James Ho (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit)
  • Greg Katsas (U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit)
  • Barbara Lagoa (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit)
  • Christopher Landau (U.S. ambassador to Mexico)
  • Carlos Muñiz (Supreme Court of Florida)
  • Martha Pacold (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois)
  • Peter Phipps (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit)
  • Sarah Pitlyk (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri)
  • Allison Jones Rushing (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit)
  • Kate Todd (deputy White House counsel)
  • Lawrence VanDyke (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit)

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