Nominees Supreme Court

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See also the coalition letter Supreme Court.
For a public discussion of this page, see Talk:Nominees Supreme Court and add comments there.

There are 21 candidates on Trump's list for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, in order to fill the vacancy of Justice Antonin Scalia. For analysis purposes, the candidates can be divided into "tier one" and "tier two," with the candidates in tier two unlikely to be considered seriously for this position. See also the coalition letter by about 100 pro-life groups.

Tier one candidates (12)

candidate current position age comments
Charles Canady Florida supreme court 62 is pro-life, as a former congressman who coined the expression "partial-birth abortion" in sponsoring the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act; he twice properly rejected an unjustified attempt by a minor to have an abortion without first notifying her parents as required by Florida law. Canady is popular with the public -- he was reelected by a landslide twice to the Florida Supreme Court, and is popular with his liberal colleagues, who elected him as Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court in 2010.
Steven Colloton US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit 53 not pro-life, he wrote that lawmakers must defer to the "professional judgment" of abortionists, and he also ruled twice in favor of the pro-abortion side in additional cases. Judge Colloton joined a decision forcing Missouri to promote the KKK on signs as part of the Missouri "Adopt-A-Highway" program. Robb v. Hungerbeeler, 370 F.3d 735 (8th Cir. 2004), and then he cast the deciding vote against the right of pro-lifers to hold signs along a street, on a petition for rehearing of Frye v. Kan. City Mo. Police Dep't, 375 F.3d 785 (8th Cir. 2004). In other words, Colloton denied to pro-lifers rights similar to what he granted to the KKK.

Colloton is being pushed by the Federalist Society, which is not a pro-life organization, and by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, which is the committee that will hold hearings on the nomination.

Additional analysis is here.

Allison Eid Colorado Supreme Court 51 former clerk for Clarence Thomas, she had an opportunity to stand up for the unborn in an abortion case but failed to speak out about the issue; she also lacks a strong sponsor
Neil Gorsuch US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit 49 not pro-life, he has written about abortion using only the terminology of pro-aborts without any reference to the "unborn child." In the case of Pino v. U.S., 507 F.3d 1233 (10th Cir. 2007), Gorsuch discussed whether a 20-week-old "nonviable fetus" had the same rights as a "viable fetus." Gorsuch, showing that he is not pro-life, indicated that his answer is "no" unless the Oklahoma Supreme Court specially found rights for the "nonviable fetus." Rather than render a pro-life ruling, Gorsuch punted this issue to the Oklahoma Supreme Court for it to decide. Gorsuch's approach is similar to the unjust approach based on viability that underlies Roe v. Wade.

Gorsuch is also a big supporter granting special rights to men who say they have a female gender identity. He sided with civil rights for "gender identity" in 2009 by adhering to a Ninth Circuit opinion by the liberal Judge Reinhardt, which held the federal law called "Title VII" protects discrimination against gender identity. Kastl v. Maricopa County Cmty. College Dist., 325 Fed. Appx. 492 (9th Cir. 2009) (Gorsuch, J., joining the court opinion). At the time virtually every other circuit rejected this liberal view. More recently Judge Gorsuch expressed his support for referring to biological men as women. Although religion is not a test for public office, Gorsuch belongs to the Episcopalian church that has publicly declared its “unequivocal opposition” to pro-life laws and Gorsuch has said nothing publicly pro-life.
Gorsuch also clings to bad precedent, and is an extreme supporter of stare decisis, both of which are excuses for upholding Roe v. Wade rather than overturning it. “Our duty to follow precedent sometimes requires us to make mistakes,” Gorsuch declared in ruling against the Second Amendment rights of a man before his court. United States v. Games-Perez, 667 F.3d 1136, 1142 (10th Cir. 2012) (Gorsuch, J., concurring).

Thomas Hardiman US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit 51 lacks a powerful sponsor but could emerge as a compromise, David Souter-like stealth pick. There are mixed signals in Judge Hardiman's background and nothing directly on the abortion issue. His ruling on other social issues have been conservative. On non-social issues, two of Judge Hardiman's decisions have been reconsidered by the U.S. Supreme Court and both were affirmed. In a third case, Barkes v. First Correctional Medical, 766 F.3d 307 (3d Cir. 2014), Hardiman dissented and subsequently the Supreme Court unanimously agreed with Judge Hardiman's dissent, and reversed the decision in Taylor v. Barkes, 135 S. Ct. 2042 (2015). Hardiman and his wife are from western Pennsylvania, which is politically significant.
Raymond Kethledge US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit 50 (in Dec.) not pro-life, he joined a decision that favorably cited a precedent censoring a pro-life advertisement, and held against allowing a Christian advertisement too. Am. Freedom Def. Initiative v. Suburban Mobility Auth. for Reg'l Transp., 698 F.3d 885 (6th Cir. 2012). Judge Kethledge also refused to join a concurring opinion by conservative Judge Boggs that sought to strengthen the Second Amendment by establishing a "strict scrutiny" standard of review for laws that infringe on it. Tyler v. Hillsdale Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 837 F.3d 678, 702 (6th Cir. 2016) (Boggs, J., concurring).
Joan Larsen Michigan Supreme Court 47 not pro-life, she is unqualified for the nomination with very little judicial experience. She is a feminist faculty member at a liberal law school, the University of Michigan [1], but may be pushed as a former Scalia clerk. She lacks a strong sponsor and asserted that there is sexism in law.
Sen. Mike Lee Senator (R-Utah) 45 has a solid pro-life record, but a senator has not been picked directly for the U.S. Supreme Court in 79 years (Hugo Black, nominated by FDR); also, if Trump wants to pick Lee, then it would make more sense to pick him for a future vacancy. During Trump's campaign Lee joined with Democrats on a resolution to oppose Trump's suggestion on screening Muslim immigrants.
Thomas Lee Utah Supreme Court 52 could become a consensus pick; his writings emphasize originalism and are considered most like Justice Scalia's.
William Pryor US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit 54 he is very committed to stare decisis, which makes it less likely he would overturn Roe v. Wade. On other social issues he has caved completely into liberals. For example, Judge Pryor recently ruled against a school board to force a middle school (grades 6-8) to have a "gay straight" club, and he previously ruled against a Christian college student who had objected to being asked to go along with views contrary to her beliefs. Judge Pryor also prosecuted Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore for an alleged ethics violation due to having the Ten Commandments on display. Pryor was barely confirmed for his current position, by a vote of only 53-45 with Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski abstaining.
Diane Sykes US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit 59 (in Dec.) not pro-life, she ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood in blocking an Indiana law that attempted to cut off funding to it under the Medicaid law. Planned Parenthood of Ind., Inc. v. Comm'r of the Ind. State Dep't of Health, 699 F.3d 962 (7th Cir. 2012).[2] Judge Sykes also ruled against "Choose Life" license plates in Illinois. Choose Life Ill., Inc. v. White, 547 F.3d 853 (7th Cir. 2008). Earlier, when she was a state court judge, she imprisoned veteran pro-life protesters to 60 days in jail. Judge Sykes also joined a decision that prohibited holding a public school graduation in a non-denominational Christian church, based on the liberal view of the Establishment Clause. Doe v. Elmbrook Sch. Dist., 687 F.3d 840, 843 (7th Cir. 2012).

Sykes was confirmed for her current position by a divisive vote of 70-27

Don Willett Texas Supreme Court 50 is generally conservative but lacks a strong sponsor and does not appear to be a frontrunner.

Tier two candidates (9)

These potential nominees are on Trump's list but are unlikely to be picked at this time for the reasons stated:

candidate current position age comments
Keith Blackwell Georgia supreme court 41 too young at this time to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and lacks a strong sponsor.
Raymond Gruender US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit 53 has a strong pro-life record, but lacks a sponsor in the Trump transition or on the Senate Judiciary Committee,and apparently is not being considered.
Edward Mansfield Iowa Supreme Court 60 wrote a controversial decision in favor of a right of an employer to fire a woman for being too sexually attractive. The current Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman is from the same state of Iowa but appears to be pushing Steve Colloton instead, which further reduces the likelihood of Justice Mansfield being considered seriously.
Federico Moreno Southern District of Florida he is a trial court rather than appellate court judge, and thus is highly unlikely to be picked.
Margaret Ryan US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces 52 she wrote the recent decision that court-martialed a Marine for having a Bible verse displayed on her desk, which suggests a hostility or insensitivity by Ryan to religious beliefs; also, it would be highly unusual to go directly from her current position to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Amul Thapar Eastern District of Kentucky unlikely to be picked because he holds the position of a trial rather than appellate court judge
David Stras Minnesota Supreme Court 42 too young at this time to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. He appears to be on the list due to his service as a former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, but Justice Stras lacks a pro-life record.
Timothy Tymkovich US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit 60 held in favor of religious liberty in Hobby Lobby decision, but he has a younger, more liberal colleague (Neil Gorsuch) on the same court who is being pushed more by the media and by the Federalist Society.
Robert Young Michigan Supreme Court 66 (in Jan.) unlikely due to his advanced age -- the oldest of the candidates -- and due to his lack of a strong sponsor.

See also