Donald Trump’s Potential Judicial Appointments List


Steven Colloton and William Pryor

Considering all the times that I have spoken about my doubts regarding Trump, I felt it necessary to give all perspectives provided by several conservative sources.

Raves and Doubts of Trump expressed at the National Review

An 18 May 2016 article in the National Review not only lists its accolades of Trump’s potential Supreme Court appointees, but also provides some conservative perspective.

“I still don’t believe Trump is a conservative on domestic policy or responsible enough to lead our nation’s foreign policy. But he may be starting to unify the party with the right moves — if his list of potential appointments to the Supreme Court is any sign.

Everyone on the list is an outstanding legal conservative. All are young, smart, and committed. They would excel in any comparison with anyone whom Hillary Clinton would appoint to the Supreme Court. Several of the possibilities, such as Tom Lee of Utah, Allison Eid of Colorado, and David Stras of Minnesota, are former law clerks of Justice Clarence Thomas, while others, such as Steve Colloton of Iowa and Joan Larsen of Michigan, clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia. They are joined by other well-known judicial conservatives, such as Diane Sykes, Don Willet, Ray Kethledge, and Bill Pryor.

These names are a Federalist Society all-star list of conservative jurisprudence. In the interest of full disclosure, I will note that I count several of them as colleagues and friends. It is a good sign that, on one of a president’s most important decisions, Trump clearly turned to the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation for advice.

Interestingly, despite his anti-Bush rhetoric, Trump also owes a debt to the Bush administration: Many of the Trump possibilities were appointed by Bush or held positions in his administration. While the Bush administration’s foreign and domestic policies remain a source of debate for Republicans today, conservatives agree that most of Bush’s judicial appointments were stellar.

The other promising sign is that Trump’s advisers have looked beyond the lower federal courts to include potential nominees from state supreme courts. State supreme-court justices will have special sensitivity to the balance between federal power and state sovereignty. Many have run for office and already know what it is like to be attacked by the Left. They may prove more immune to the pressure from the New York-Washington liberal media/academic elite that has managed to sway Justice Anthony Kennedy and other Republican appointees.

It also doesn’t hurt that many of the possibilities are from battleground states in the coming November elections.

Trump’s team clearly respects the voters in Colorado, Minnesota, Utah, Michigan, and Texas, where he has named state supreme-court justices who have run for election. I am thrilled by this list. But that being said, I cannot trust Trump to keep his word. He has already flip-flopped on so many issues, before, during, and after the primary campaign. How do we know he would not start wheeling and dealing on judicial appointments if he were to win the Oval Office?”

Unlike Mr. Yoo, I have not spent enough time investigating the people on the list to tell whether they might be good additions to the bench; however, with the reviews provided by stalwart conservative organizations like the National Review, the Cato Institute, and Life News, these potential appointees must be good.

Therefore, as noted by Mr. Yoo, the real proof of this political pudding will occur (or not) when Trump can make the appointments.
 

Likewise, the Cato Institute Praises the List of Jurists, but Doubts Trump

In a similar 18 May article, the Cato Institute both lauded the list members and doubted Trump.

“We’ve been waiting for months for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to release his list of potential Supreme Court appointees. Today he actually came through on that promise. The would-be justices, in the (alphabetical) order in which they appear in the AP story that broke the news, are:

  • Judge Steve Colloton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (Iowa)
  • Justice Allison Eid of the Colorado Supreme Court
  • Judge Raymond Gruender of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (Missouri)
  • Judge Thomas Hardiman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Pennsylvania)
  • Judge Raymond Kethledge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Michigan)
  • Justice Joan Larsen of the Michigan Supreme Court
  • Justice Thomas Lee of the Utah Supreme Court
  • Judge William Pryor of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (Alabama)
  • Justice David Stras of the Minnesota Supreme Court
  • Judge Diane Sykes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Wisconsin)
  • Justice Don Willett of the Texas Supreme Court

This is an exceptional list. I’m not intimately familiar with all 11 judges and I don’t expect to agree with all of them on everything, but those whose jurisprudence I know well are excellent and the others have sterling reputations. These are not squishes or lightweights.

Also notable and commendable is that 5 of the 11 are state supreme court justices; not all judicial talent is already on the federal bench and the U.S. Supreme Court could use that sort of different perspective. I’ll forego quibbling over this or that pick – whom to drop for a top 10 or 5, whom to add to round out to 15, whether Senator Mike Lee would be better than his brother – but want to emphasize that these are among the very best judges who are young and smart enough to be on the Court.

I’m no fan of the Donald – and who knows whether he’d follow through if elected? – but he’s listening to the right advisers here. As I’ve previously written, Trump may not know originalism from origami, but there are better reasons to vote against him than judges.”

The Opinion of LifeNews

Finally, an 18 May 2016 LifeNews article presents a more focused perspective:

“Likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump today released a list of 11 potential Supreme Court judges he would appoint if he is elected president. In a statement accompanying the list, Trump said he would not appoint a liberal judge if elected.

When it comes to abortion, for pro-life voters there is no more important issue in the presidential election than who will control the appointment process for one or more Supreme Court judges who will determine the fate of abortion for decades. And on that point, earlier this month, Trump said he would appoint pro-life-friendly judges to the Supreme Court.

The list of potential nominees for the seat of pro-life Supreme Court Justice Antnoin Saclia that Trump would conifer include  Steven Colloton of Iowa, Allison Eid of Colorado and Raymond Gruender of Missouri.

Also on the list are: Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, Joan Larsen of Michigan, Thomas Lee of Utah, William Pryor of Alabama, David Stras of Minnesota, Diane Sykes of Wisconsin and Don Willett of Texas.

‘This list was compiled, first and foremost, based on constitutional principles, with input from highly respected conservatives and Republican party leadership,’ Trump’s campaign said.

In a statement, Trump said: ‘Justice Scalia was a remarkable person and a brilliant Supreme Court Justice. His career was defined by his reverence for the Constitution and his legacy of protecting Americans’ most cherished freedoms. 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. 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.’

According to AP report, Trump said in March that pro-life voters don’t need to fear him picking a pro-abortion judge:

‘I am going to give a list of either five or 10 judges that I will pick, 100 percent pick, that I will put in for nomination. Because some of the people that are against me say: We don’t know if he’s going to pick the right judge. Supposing he picks a liberal judge or supposing he picks a pro-choice judge, Trump said at an event in Palm Beach, Florida.

He said then the list would include judges ‘that everybody respects, likes and totally admires’ — ‘great conservative judges, great intellects, the people that you want.’

‘I’m going to submit a list of justices, potential justices of the United States Supreme Court, that I will appoint from the list,’ Trump said then. ‘I won’t go beyond the list, and I’m going to let people know. Because some people say maybe I’ll appoint a liberal judge. I’m not appointing a liberal judge.’

The initial reaction to the list from conservative circles was positive.

‘This list ought to be encouraging to anyone who prioritizes the rule of law, and I congratulate Mr. Trump on making a very significant policy statement about his desire to prioritize the future of the Supreme Court,’ said Carrie Severino, the chief counsel and policy director of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network.

‘The names on this list would need to be vetted, obviously, but they all seem to share in common a record of putting the law and the Constitution ahead of their political preferences,’ Severino said.

Meanwhile, the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List hailed the potential Supreme Court nominees in an email to LifeNews:

‘This is an exceptionally strong list of jurists with immense respect for our founding documents. We are encouraged by Mr. Trump’s repeated pledges to appoint constitutionalists, which stands in sharp contrast to Hillary Clinton’s position. There is no question Clinton would only nominate judges who stand in lock-step with the abortion lobby and would strike down even the most modest abortion limits.

‘Not only does Hillary Clinton support abortion on-demand, up until the moment of birth, she has said she wants to end the Hyde Amendment, longstanding, bipartisan legislation to prevent taxpayer dollars from funding elective abortion. Her proposal to end Hyde is so wildly unpopular, she would no doubt use the courts to impose her abortion ideology against the will of the majority of Americans.

‘The battle lines have been drawn and the two sides are now clear. SBA List is already working to make the case to pro-life voters that the Court matters and must be protected. This is not an election for pro-lifers to sit out.’

Hopefully, these articles will mark a new, strongly-conservative portion of Mr. Trump’s political career.

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