Tuesday, January 24, 2017

#Trump's supreme court nominees are all conservatives to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump has culled the candidates to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court to a handful of federal appellate judges admired in conservative circles, people close to the selection process said Tuesday.

The list includes Neil Gorsuch of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Thomas Hardiman of the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, Raymond Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, and William Pryor of the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, the people said.

Mr. Trump said he would make his nomination next week, quickly fulfilling his campaign pledge to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia with a like-minded conservative.

People close to the White House caution that the process is still fluid, however, and that other candidates could come into last-minute contention.

During his campaign, Mr. Trump turned to leaders of conservative organizations such as the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society to compile a list that ultimately numbered 21 candidates, including federal judges, state supreme court justices, and a U.S. senator. Since winning the election, he has continued to consult with leaders of those groups, and also sought advice from his sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry of the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, the people close to the process said.

Leonard Leo, who is advising Mr. Trump on the nomination, said that despite his own business background, the president wasn’t focused on a nominee’s approach to business issues before the court.

“That’s less important to him,” Mr. Leo said. Instead, Mr. Trump is seeking a nominee who, like himself, “makes forceful decisions and sticks with them,” regardless of criticism, said Mr. Leo, who also is executive vice president of the Federalist Society. “That’s how his business background fits into this.”

Their status as finalists illustrates the long game played in judicial politics; all are among a crop of promising young conservatives long groomed for a Supreme Court vacancy. Appointed to the circuit courts by President George W. Bush, they have had years to develop their craft as legal writers—and, more critically, to demonstrate their ideological consistency to a partisan base sometimes frustrated when judges appointed by Republican presidents depart from the party line.

That scrutiny may have doomed the chances of once-rising members of that conservative class, such as Sixth Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton and Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the District of Columbia Circuit, both omitted from the initial Trump lists. Like Chief Justice John Roberts, both filed opinions that many conservatives found too receptive toward the Affordable Care Act.

Judge Pryor may likewise fail the purity test. Some evangelical leaders say they are troubled by two 2011 decisions he joined involving gay and transgender rights. In one, Judge Pryor voted against a state university student who objected on religious grounds to the school-counseling program’s curriculum requiring sensitivity to gay, lesbian and transgender students. In another, he sided with a transgender woman who alleged sex discrimination after being fired from a job in state government.

“I always expected him to be attacked by the left. I never expected that he would be attacked from the right,” said John Malcolm, who directs a legal studies center at the Heritage Foundation.

Indeed, Judge Pryor, who has characterized Roe v. Wade as “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history,” was to some liberals the worst potential choice. Democrats filibustered Judge Pryor’s initial circuit court nomination, prompting President Bush to install him temporarily with a recess appointment before winning confirmation later.

The top names now circulating—all white men—won’t add to the Supreme Court’s ethnic or gender diversity. But with every current justice holding at least one Ivy League degree, most on Mr. Trump’s list would shake up the court’s academic profile.

Judge Pryor, previously the Alabama attorney general, attended Northeast Louisiana University and Tulane Law School. Judge Hardiman was the first in his family to attend college—at Notre Dame—and paid his way through Georgetown University Law Center by driving a cab. Judge Kethledge, who clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, earned undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan.

The exception is Judge Gorsuch, who brings establishment credibility. Son of the late Anne Gorsuch Burford, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Ronald Reagan, he holds degrees from Columbia, Harvard and Oxford where, like Justice Stephen Breyer, he was a Marshall Scholar. Judge Gorsuch clerked for Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy.

Write to Jess Bravin at jess.bravin@wsj.com.


Donald Trump Narrows List of Supreme Court Nominees

No comments:

Post a Comment