The SCOTUS shortlist: Mike and Thomas Lee among President Trump’s potential nominees
Following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the White House and Senate are moving quickly to initiate what could be a contentious process to select her replacement.
SALT LAKE CITY — When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday, President Donald Trump quickly and publicly began the process of selecting her replacement on the Supreme Court. He has since signaled that a nomination could come as early as this week, and he suggested to attendees at a rally in North Carolina that his nominee will be a woman.
The confirmation process promises to be contentious, as it comes four years after Senate Republicans refused to vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, citing the proximity of a November election. “I think the process could go very, very fast,” Trump said.
A number of senators appear on President Trump’s list. The last senator to become a Supreme Court justice was Sherman Minton, in 1949, but if a current senator were to vote for him or herself, it would likely count.) Many on the list are judges appointed to lower courts during the Trump administration.
Here is the list of potential nominees Trump has floated recently. In the coming days, the Deseret News will take a closer look at several of them. Check back here for links.
Amy Coney Barrett
A professor at Notre Dame Law School, Judge Barrett sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Her track record suggests she may be inclined to roll back abortion rights, which Ginsburg defended. She is considered the leading candidate for the vacancy.
Judge Lagoa sits on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. In the early 2000s, she represented the family of Elián Gonzalez in an international custody battle, after the 6-year-old Cuban national was found floating off the Florida coast.
Sen. Lee of Utah has no judicial experience, but he was interviewed by President Trump for the 2018 opening that ultimately went to Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The senator’s brother is the associate chief justice of the Utah Supreme Court and often uses a mode of analysis known as corpus linguistics, which looks to real-world language patterns to discern intended meaning.
Judge Ho, who was born in Taiwan and attended the University of Chicago Law School, sits on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. He recently sided with a 3-0 majority in ruling that the COVID-19 pandemic is not a valid reason for voters in Texas to receive mail-in ballots.
Judge Bade sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She has a relatively low profile; some speculate the president floated her name to garner electoral support in Arizona.
Cameron, the attorney general of Kentucky, has worked as a special prosecutor in the case of Breonna Taylor, who became a Black Lives Matter icon after getting shot and killed by police in March. Cameron has spoken out against some protests that have resulted in confrontation and property damage.
Todd, former chief counsel for the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center, now serves as deputy assistant to the president and deputy White House counsel — where she was hired in January 2019 to help defend the president’s executive privilege. She graduated from Harvard Law School, where she worked as the editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Chief Justice Canady sits on the Florida Supreme Court. Prior to this, he was general counsel to then Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Clement, currently a partner in a private law firm, has argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court. He formerly clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Judge Colloton sits on the Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. In 1995 and 1996, he worked as an associate in the Office of Independent Council Kenneth Starr.
Sen. Cotton of Arkansas served in Iraq with the 101st Airborne and previously worked at the global law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. He has defended Congressional Republicans’ push to confirm a nominee for Ginsburg’s vacated seat.
Sen. Cruz of Texas waged a contentious primary campaign against President Trump in 2016 but has since defended many of the president’s policies. He has recently argued that Republicans have a duty to vote on a Trump nominee.
Stuart Kyle Duncan
Judge Duncan sits on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. He speaks regularly at events for the Federalist Society — a right-leaning organization that advocates for en emphasis on “individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law” — and helped a case involving the legality of requiring abortion doctors to maintain hospital “admitting privileges” to reach the Supreme Court.
Judge Eid sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. She previously worked as the Colorado Solicitor General and sat on the Supreme Court of Colorado.
The assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel in Trump’s administration, Engel also worked in the George W. Bush administration. In 2017, Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war who has since passed away, opposed Engel’s nomination to his current position, citing reservations about Engel’s defense of “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
Francisco, the former solicitor general of the United States under Trump, worked to reverse certain positions of the Obama administration, including rolling back protections for transgender students and declining to defend the Affordable Care Act against a constitutional challenge.
Justice Grant sits on the Supreme Court of Georgia, and previously served as the state solicitor general of Georgia.
Judge Gruender sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. Gruender dissented in a 2010 ruling that struck down a South Dakota informed consent law requiring abortion providers to inform patients that the procedure would end the life of a “living human being.”
Thomas M. Hardiman
Judge Hardiman sits on the Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. He drove a taxi to help pay his undergraduate tuition at Notre Dame and has defended gun rights, dissenting when his court upheld a law requiring gun permit seekers to demonstrate a “justifiable need.”
Sen. Hawley of Missouri is currently the youngest U.S. senator. He has led investigations into possible anti-trust violations by tech companies, and in 2018, he joined a lawsuit challenging the preexisting condition requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
Prior to his appointment to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017, Judge Katsas faced scrutiny from senate Democrats for his involvement in controversial Trump administration policies, such as the travel ban and DACA rollbacks.
Judge Kethledge sits on the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. He previously worked as in-house council for Ford Motor Company.
Landau serves as the U.S. ambassador to Mexico. He was born in Madrid and, following his time at Harvard Law School, clerked for current Justice Clarence Thomas when he was at the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Judge Larsen sits on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Prior to this appointment, she worked as a professor at the University of Michigan School of Law.
Justice Mansfield sits on the Supreme Court of Iowa, having previous worked at private law firms in Boston and Los Angeles.
Justice Muñiz, of the Supreme Court of Florida, worked previously as general counsel of the Department of Education.
Judge Moreno sits on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. He attended the University of Miami Law School, and served as an assistant federal public defender.
Judge Newsom sits on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. He attended Harvard Law School, where he was the articles editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Judge Pacold sits on the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and has lectured at the University of Chicago Law School.
Judge Pipps sits on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. Previously, as an attorney for the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, he received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award.
Judge Pitlyk sits on the District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. She was formerly a law clerk to current Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
William H. Pryor Jr.
Judge Pryor sits on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. He was previously the attorney general of Alabama, and he has attacked Roe v. Wade, calling it “the worst constitutional abomination in our history.”
Allison Jones Rushing
Judge Rushing sits on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. During her confirmation hearings in 2018, she was pressed about interning with the Alliance Defending Freedom as a law student; the group has been accused by the Southern Poverty Law Center, among others, of opposing LGBTQ+ rights.
Judge Ryan sat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Her term expired in late July.
Judge Stras sits on the Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. He worked as co-director for the Institute of Law and Politics, a research institute in the University of Minnesota Law School.
Judge Sykes sits on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. She previously worked as a reporter for The Milwaukee Journal.
Judge Thapar sits on the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Thapar has been praised by fellow Kentucky politician and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who in 2018 advocated for Thapar to hold a Supreme Court seat.
Judge Tymkovich sits on the Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. He previously worked as solicitor general of the State of Colorado, arguing multiple cases before the Supreme Court.
Judge VanDyke sits on the 0th Circuit Court of Appeals after a contested appointment in 2019, in part because he received a “not qualified” designation from the American Bar Association.
Justice Wyrick sits on the Supreme Court of Oklahoma. He worked previously as the state’s solicitor general.
Justice Blackwell recently announced his intention to resign from the Georgia Supreme Court in November to attend to family obligations.
Justice Young retired from the Supreme Court of Michigan in 2017.