In his 2016 campaign, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia thrust the Supreme Court into the campaign, Donald Trump put together a list of judges that, as Cato’s Ilya Shapiro writes, ultimately “attracted swing voters in key states.”
President Trump appointed two Supreme Court Justices in his first term. Now he heads into a reelection campaign not dissimilar to his 2016 bid for the White House. The Supreme Court is no less an issue, explains Mr. Shapiro.
Three years later, after appointing two justices, the president heads into a reelection campaign where the Supreme Court is no less of an issue. Eighty-six-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent cancer treatment is just the latest health concern this leftist icon has faced. She’s vowed to outlast the current president, but if Trump is reelected, the odds seem to be against her. And don’t forget that Justice Stephen Breyer is 81 years old.
So it would be both smart politics and good governance to update the list of SCOTUS contenders. When a vacancy emerges, whether before or after the election, who will be considered?
Ilya Shapiro’s Unlisted Superstars
From President Trump’s old list of 24 judges, there are now 16, writes Ilya, who would include these superstars:
- Stephanos Bibas, Third Circuit Judge,
- James Ho, Fifth Circuit Judge
- Andrew Oldham, Fifth Circuit Judge
- Neomi Rao, D.C. Circuit Judge (Ilya’s dark-horse)
- Rachel Brand, Walmart general counsel (previously associate attorney general, the number-three Justice Department official, and destined for future high office, judicial or otherwise)
As Ilya points out, the erudite Oldham joins Grant and Wyrick in the “hold” pile. Oldham only turned 40 last year. Eleventh Circuit Judge Britt Grant (41) and Oklahoma district judge Patrick Wyrick (38), adds Ilya, are perfectly suited to be federal judges, “but it’s just too early to elevate them.”
What to Expect if Ginsburg’s Seat Needs Filling
If the seat to be filled is Ginsburg’s, President Trump will be hard-pressed not to pick a woman, particularly if the vacancy arises before the election—or even, frankly, before the 2022 midterms in a second Trump term.
The favorite here is Seventh Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who already made the short list for what became Kavanaugh’s seat. A former Scalia clerk and Notre Dame law professor, Barrett was viciously attacked for her Catholic beliefs at her confirmation hearing, so expect more of that if she’s the pick.
A Terrific List without any Presidential Puffery
Ilya admits it’s hard to narrow down his SCOTUS favorites. His 20 picks, “from all over the country and representing diverse educational backgrounds,” can be found here: https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/its-time-trump-update-supreme-court-short-list
Of course, much will depend on interviews with the White House counsel’s office and with the President, continues Ilya, but there is an embarrassment of riches.
Regardless of who the eventual choice is, President Trump would be wise to update his judicial list and re-release it on the campaign trail.
Read more here.