With months still to go before the summer Republican National Convention, presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump on Wednesday released a list of 11 names of judges he would consider as potential Supreme Court nominees.
The announcement is unorthodox, but lawmakers still on the fence about backing Trump have said the billionaire could bolster his credentials by surrounding himself with a team of strong conservatives. Trump’s list was broadly composed of mainstream conservative judges who could fill the seat left vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, which instantly sparked a partisan war over appointing his successor.
Trump praised Scalia’s career in a statement announcing his list of potential picks.
“He was a Justice who did not believe in legislating from the bench and he is a person whom I held in the highest regard and will always greatly respect his intelligence and conviction to uphold the Constitution of our country,” Trump said in the statement. “The following list of potential Supreme Court justices is representative of the kind of constitutional principles I value and, as President, I plan to use this list as a guide to nominate our next United States Supreme Court Justices.”
Of the 11 Trump campaign picks, three are women and eight are men. All the potential nominees are white. None went to Harvard Law, the most popular alma mater for Supreme Court justices over the last 25 years. Here’s a closer look at the billionaire’s potential nominees.
Larsen serves on the Michigan Supreme Court and is an attorney and law professor. She was a legal adviser to former President George W. Bush’s administration and a clerk to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Larsen was serving in the U.S. Attorney General’s office at the time Bush received legal advice concerning enhanced interrogation techniques some considered to be torture.
Lee serves on Utah’s Supreme Court. He was a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has been a law professor and served as the deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department’s civil division. Lee had not served as a judge prior to his nomination to the state Supreme Court.
He is also the brother of tea party star Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT).
Pryor is a former Alabama attorney general whom Bush appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Pryor has an interesting history: he once called Roe v. Wade the “worst abomination” in constitutional law and also angered Republicans by supporting the ouster of Alabama’s chief justice, who refused to follow a federal order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from that state’s judicial building.
Stras serves as an associate justice on Minnesota’s Supreme Court and had previously been a professor. He was a clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and was part of the court that recently ruled on taxes in Minnesota.
Sykes is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, appointed by Bush, and previously served on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court. She has argued in favor of a voter ID law and said that anti-gay groups should still be eligible for federal funding, regardless of whether they discriminate. Sykes was married to Milwaukee radio host Charlie Sykes who was part of the “#NeverTrump” movement.
Willett serves on the Texas Supreme Court, which recently ruled that it was constitutional for school districts to share property tax revenue. He maintains an active Twitter account where he shows off his sense of humor and his facility with gifs and emojis. He’s also mocked Trump on the social media platform.
Willett is close with Trump’s former presidential rival, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and his wife, Heidi Cruz.
Colloton, who lives in Des Moines, Iowa, earned degrees from Princeton and Yale Law before going on to clerk for then-Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist in 1989. Former President George W. Bush nominated Colloton to fill a vacant federal court seat in February 2003.
On the bench of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, Colloton wrote the majority opinion ruling Missouri inmates on death row have no right to discovery about the suppliers of drugs used in lethal injection unless their attorneys can indicate a more humane mode of execution.
Eid earned degrees from Stanford and graduated with high honors from the University of Chicago Law School. She clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and as a special assistant and speechwriter to Secretary of Education William J. Bennett. Bush appointed Eid, a Republican, to serve on the permanent committee tasked with writing the history of the Supreme Court before Gov. Bill Owens (R) appointed her to the Colorado Supreme Court in 2005.
Eid also taught at the University of Colorado Law School but did not have experience as a judge before her appointment.
Gruender, who also sits on the Eighth Circuit, attended Washington University at St. Louis, where he earned his undergraduate and law degrees, along with an M.B.A. He worked in private practice after graduation and became an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri in 1990.
In 1996, Gruender ran Bob Dole’s presidential campaign in the state. He was nominated to the bench by Bush in 2004.
He wrote the court decision that ruled Union Pacific Railroad Company did not violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 by not offering birth control bills as part of its health insurance coverage for its employees.
Hardiman graduated from Notre Dame—the first in his family to attend college, according to the Trump campaign—before going on to Georgetown Law. He worked in private practice in both Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh before he was twice appointed by Bush: first to the District Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania in 2003 and then to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006.
Kethledge graduated with degrees from the University of Michigan before going on to clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. He later worked as in-house counsel for Ford Motor Company before moving back into private practice.
Bush nominated Kethledge to fill a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals vacancy in 2006. He was confirmed almost exactly two years later, after facing staunch opposition from two Michigan Democrats.
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