There is a flurry of activity happening during President Trump’s first few days in office, almost too much to keep up with in terms of blogging. From executive orders reversing some of President Obama’s agenda, to meetings with business and union leaders, to a continued push for his cabinet nominations to be confirmed by the Senate. One issue that will soon come to the forefront is his first Supreme Court nominee to replace the deceased Justice Antonin Scalia. Trump stated this will happen within the first couple weeks of his presidency, so expect a name to drop sometime soon.
From everything we know, here are the names that appear to be the most prominent on his short list, in no particular order.
Judge Neil M. Gorsuch of Colorado
The LA Times reports on Gorsuch:
Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, a highly regarded conservative jurist best known for upholding religious liberty rights in the legal battles over Obamacare, has emerged as a leading contender for President Trump’s first Supreme Court nomination.
Gorsuch, 49, was among 21 potential high court candidates circulated by Trump’s team during the campaign, but his stock has been rising lately as several admirers and supporters have been named to positions in the Trump administration.
He currently serves on the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. A former clerk for Justice Byron White, also a Colorado native, and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, he served in the George W. Bush administration’s Justice Department.
In Gorsuch, supporters see a jurist who has strong academic credentials, a gift for clear writing and a devotion to deciding cases based on the original meaning of the Constitution and the text of statutes, as did the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Judge William H. Pryor of Alabama
Some back from The New Star on Pryor:
A federal judge with deep Louisiana roots who is considered on Donald Trump’s short list for a Supreme Court nomination met with the president the weekend before his inauguration, according to a news report.
William H. Pryor, a University of Louisiana at Monroe and Tulane University graduate, is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Alabama. One of his daughters graduated from LSU last spring. Pryor is the brother-in-law of hotel developer James Moore Jr. of Monroe.
The Associated Press reported Pryor met with Trump Jan. 14 in New York.
Pryor is considered a conservative with views Trump has said are important to him when he chooses a nominee. Among them: calling the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion the “worst abomination of constitutional law in our history”; voting against the Obamacare contraceptive mandate; and voting to uphold a strict voter ID law.
Judge Diane S. Sykes of Wisconsin
Chicago Mag provides from background on Sykes:
Who is Diane Sykes?
Milwaukee-born, her law degree is from that city’s Marquette University, which would distinguish her from the glut of Harvard (four) and Yale (three) grads currently on the court. (Ruth Bader Ginsburg spent two years at Harvard Law, transferring her third year to Columbia, which granted the degree.)
Sykes’s undergraduate degree is in journalism, from Northwestern. In the year between graduating in 1980 and starting law school, she worked as a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal.
After clerking for a federal district court judge, she spent seven years in private practice at a Milwaukee law firm before becoming a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge, handling both civil and criminal matters. Next, in 1999, came an appointment by then-Republican governor Tommy Thompson to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. She was elected to a 10-year term in 2000.
George W. Bush nominated her to the federal bench in 2003 and she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2004 by the wide margin of 70 to 27. She had the backing of Wisconsin’s two democratic senators, Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl. Illinois’s Dick Durbin was a no vote, blasting Sykes for refusing to answer his questions on her views on abortion and Miranda rights. He called her, among other things, biased against defendants.
It’s important to note that during the campaign, Donald Trump provided a list of 21 possible names from which he would select his Supreme Court Justices. However, it appears that his short, short list is now down to just a few, perhaps likely one of the three mentioned above. We should know within weeks.