President Donald Trump publicly revealed his list of potential Supreme Court candidates earlier this month — less than two weeks before the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Trump's plan gives Americans some idea of how the court would function of Trump is allowed to make his appointment before the 2020 presidential election. Some of the candidates are familiar from their time in American politics.
Trump published a list of 20 candidates for the Supreme Court on Wednesday, Sept. 9, if a vacancy opened up on the bench. Ginsburg passed away on Friday, Sept. 18, at 87, and amid a battle with cancer. According to a report by Axios, Trump's aides and advisers have been urging him to consolidate his list of Supreme Court candidates for months, partially for use in their campaign efforts. While the list is a long one, there are already frontrunners emerging.
Trump favors some candidates over others for political reasons in the hunt for a new Supreme Court justice. Many could tie him more closely to governors, senators, or other officials they know personally or could endear him to battleground states in the upcoming election. Some judges on the list — such as Florida's Barbara Lagoa — have already issued legal decisions with a profound impact on Trump's presidency.
Whether Trump will be allowed to appoint a Supreme Court justice remains to be seen, but either way, there is an insight to be gained from his selections. Here is a look at who Trump is considering for the job.
Am humbled & deeply honored to be on President Trump’s SCOTUS list, released today.
I spent this Summer writing a book on the Supreme Court, telling the inside story of how our constitutional liberties hang in the balance, One Vote Away.
PRE-ORDER here: https://t.co/CspAgcr7yO— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 9, 2020
The most well-known person on Trump's list of potential Supreme Court justices is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. After the list was published, Cruz issued a statement saying that he is "grateful for the president's confidence in me and for his leadership in nominating principled constitutionalists to the federal bench."
A report by NBC News called Cruz one of the notable "polarizing figures" of Trump's list, possibly due to Cruz's increasingly brazen rhetoric on social media and his stances on issues like gun rights and women's productive rights.prevnext
The Supreme Court could use some more justices who understand the difference between applying the law and making the law, which the Court does when it invents a right to an abortion, infringes on religious freedom, and erodes the Second Amendment.— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) September 9, 2020
Another top contender is Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, best known to many for his harsh rhetoric against Black Lives Matter protests back in June. Cotton tweeted that the president should deploy the U.S. military in American cities, and give "no quarter" to "anarchists, rioters and looters." A man with Cotton's military background knows that "no quarter" specifically means killing enemy combatants even if they lawfully surrender — a war crime under modern Geneva Conventions.
Cotton is still preoccupied with the control of protesters, and with gun rights, immigration and healthcare. At 43 years old, he is also one of the youngest candidates on Trump's list.prevnext
I appreciate the President’s confidence in listing me as a potential Supreme Court nominee. But as I told the President, Missourians elected me to fight for them in the Senate, and I have no interest in the high court. I look forward to confirming constitutional conservatives— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) September 9, 2020
Two months ago, I pledged to vote only for #SCOTUS nominees who understand and acknowledge that Roe was wrongly decided. I stand by that commitment, and I call on my fellow Republican senators to take the same stand— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) September 19, 2020
One last notable lawmaker on Trump's list is Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley — again, a Republican. The youngest U.S. senator serving today, Hawley is a stalwart supporter of Trump. In May, while stimulus check debates were raging, Hawley was one of the first to openly advocate for payroll tax cuts instead. Trump was in favor of the idea, and ultimately implemented himself via executive order, though with limited scope.
Hawley is a strict social conservative, who has been quoted as saying that the American sexual revolution of the 1960s led inevitably to the scourge of human trafficking. He has spoken out against women's reproductive rights and protections for LGBTQ+ Americans in the workplace.
Hawley wrote on Twitter that he is not interested in the Supreme Court nomination, but he does intend to vote for Trump's appointment to the bench before the 2020 presidential election.prevnext
Amy Coney Barrett
Amy Coney Barrett is the frontrunner: https://t.co/PkiPCRFHmr— Josh Wingrove (@josh_wingrove) September 19, 2020
Most of the nominees on Trump's list are not lawmakers, however, but judges in other courts already. Amy Coney Barrett was the runner-up in Trump's last Supreme Court nomination back in 2018, when he ultimately put Brett Kavanaugh on the bench.
Barrett is deeply opposed to women's reproductive rights, and is especially controversial because she has written that she believes the Supreme Court has the right to reverse decisions made in the past. According to a report by USA Today, Democrats took this as a threat to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal around the U.S.prevnext
Another Kavanaugh-adjacent nominee is his former court clerk Britt Grant, who went on to serve as a Georgia Supreme Court justice. Grant has often praised Kavanaugh as for his "integrity, stability and commitment to the rule of law." She worked for former President George W. Bush's administration, and for former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. She was then confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2018.prevnext
Hearing some Barbara Lagoa buzz pic.twitter.com/PUNFLWCSq1— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) September 19, 2020
As noted above, Florida native Barbara Lagoa is considered a political ally of Trump, in part because she is reportedly a personal protégé of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Lagoa was among the Florida judges who ruled earlier this month that felons in Florida may not vote if they owe fees and fines to the state — even if they have served their time and been rehabilitated. Political analysts say that this decision could have a measurable impact on the 2020 presidential election, likely in Trump's favor.prevnext
Federal appeals court Judge Amul Thapar pic.twitter.com/TXOUq9K0U4— Jeffs (@jeffs_araujo35) September 19, 2020
Finally, another notable name on Trump's Supreme Court shortlist is Amul Thapar, a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit appointed in May of 2017. Thapar is reportedly a personal protégé of Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell and has harbored aspirations for the Supreme Court since he was young. He has immense trial court experience as an attorney, which is rare for a judge of his stature.
Regardless of which candidate Trump lands on, Democrats are hoping to stop him from nominating the next Supreme Court justice before the 2020 presidential election, just as McConnell led Republican in stopping former President Barack Obama from nominating a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia in March of 2016. The legality of the process remains in question.prev