Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, on Wednesday released a list of 11 potential Supreme Court nominees he would appoint if elected president, including to fill the vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia. The list is meant to reassure conservatives that his picks would be in line with their positions and help allay lingering reservations.
Top picks include conservative federal and state judges like 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. Trump had previously named Pryor and Sykes as examples of kind of justices he would choose.
The news comes as Trump is working to bring together a fractured Republican Party and earn the trust of still-skeptical establishment Republicans who question his electability in the general election, as well as conservatives in his party still wary of his commitment to their cause. His campaign stressed the list was compiled “first and foremost, based on constitutional principles, with input from highly respected conservatives and Republican Party leadership.”
“I have a lot of people that are conservative that really like me, love everything I stand for, but they really would like to know my view because perhaps outside of the defense of our country, perhaps the single most important thing the next president is going to have to do is pick Supreme Court justices,” he told Hannity.
Larsen, who serves on the Michigan Supreme Court and is a former law clerk to Scalia, delivered one of the tributes to the late justice at his memorial service in March. She served in the Justice Department office that produced the legal justifications for the enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, that critics have called torture.
Willett, a justice on the Texas Supreme Court, is perhaps best known for his heavy use of social media. His Twitter handle, (at)justicewillett, has more than 35,000 followers.
Willett however has repeatedly mocked Trump on Twitter.
Pryor was initially given a recess appointment to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by President George W. Bush. Senate Democrats had tried to block Pryor’s appointments over his strong criticism of the Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman’s right to an abortion.
Apart from Sykes, who is 58, the others all are younger than 55 and David Stras is just 41. The eight men and three women on the list are all white.
Trump’s list is also notable for the names that don’t appear. It omits two of the biggest stars in the conservative legal world, Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the federal appeals court in Washington, and former Bush administration Solicitor General Paul Clement.
Trump first said in March that he planned to release the list of five to 10 judges in an effort to ease concerns about his conservative credentials, which had come under attack in the heated Republican primary.
“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.”
The vow marked a rare moment of acknowledgment by Trump that he could be doing more to appease those in his party opposed his candidacy.
Trump had said he would like to appoint judges in the mold of deeply conservative as Scalia, who died in February.
In the statement, he described Scalia as “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 added. “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.”
“Donald Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees are a woman’s worst nightmare,” Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America said in a statement. “His vision appears to be turning the court into an ideological instrument instead of an arbiter of the bedrock values of our country -justice, freedom, and equality.”
The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life non-profit, called Trump’s list an “exceptionally strong list of jurists with immense respect for our founding documents.”