Supreme Court Nominations

Additions to Trump’s SCOTUS short list include 3 GOP senators, 2 judges rated ‘not qualified’

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Three Republican senators are among 20 lawyers added to President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court short list, which was released Wednesday.

The senators are Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, report the New York Times, the Washington Post, BuzzFeed News and the National Law Journal. How Appealing links to additional coverage, and a press release is here.

Also on the new list are eight federal appeals judges—all appointees of Trump—and former U.S. Solicitors General Paul Clement and Noel Francisco. Two of the judges on the list received “not qualified” ratings by the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary for the current judgeships: U.S. District Judge Sarah Pitlyk of the Eastern District of Missouri and U.S. Circuit Judge Lawrence VanDyke of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco.

About 20 potential Supreme Court nominees are on a previous short list. They include Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the 7th Circuit at Chicago, Judge Thomas Hardiman of the 3rd Circuit at Philadelphia and Judge William Pryor of the 11th Circuit at Atlanta. According to the New York Times, all three are widely thought to be front-runners for a Supreme Court vacancy during the Trump administration.

Here is the entire short list:

• Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan of the 5th Circuit at New Orleans. Duncan is former general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Duncan has written panel opinions upholding a district attorney’s political firing of his crime victims unit coordinator and rejecting a transgender inmate’s request to change court records to reflect her new name.

• VanDyke of the 9th Circuit at San Francisco. The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary gave VanDyke a “not qualified” rating based on reports that he was “arrogant,” “lazy” and an “ideologue.” The committee also referred to a theme of an “entitlement temperament” that emerged in its review. VanDyke is a former deputy assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s environment and natural resources division and former solicitor general for Montana and Nevada.

• Judge James Ho of the 5th Circuit at New Orleans, who is a former solicitor general in the Texas attorney general’s office. Ho strongly supported police officers in an opinion on qualified immunity, took a stand for the First Amendment right of Catholic bishops to oppose “the moral tragedy of abortion,” and ruled against an inmate seeking sex reassignment surgery. But he attracted some notice for a footnote in which he criticized homophobic legal arguments. Ho’s opinion was later withdrawn and replaced with a new opinion that said the lawyer had apologized. Ho is a former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas.

• Judge Gregory Katsas of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, who is a former clerk for Thomas, a former deputy White House counsel, a former DOJ official in the George W. Bush administration and a former partner at Jones Day. Katsas was in the majority that allowed federal executions to proceed.

• Judge Bridget Bade of the 9th Circuit at San Francisco, a former magistrate judge in Arizona and a former federal prosecutor.

• Judge Barbara Lagoa of the 11th Circuit at Atlanta, an appointee of Trump who was the first Latina woman to serve on the Florida Supreme Court.

• Judge Peter Phipps of the 3rd Circuit at Philadelphia, an appointee of Trump. Phipps was formerly a senior trial counsel in the federal programs branch of the DOJ’s civil division.

• Judge Allison Jones Rushing of the 4th Circuit at Richmond, Virginia, an appointee of Trump. At the time of her confirmation in March 2019, she was the youngest federal judge in the country. She is a former law clerk for Thomas and a former litigation partner at Williams & Connolly.

• Cotton of Arkansas, who tweeted after Trump’s announcement, “It’s time for Roe v. Wade to go.”

• Cruz of Texas, who said he was honored to be considered. Cruz is a former Texas solicitor general and was a clerk for the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.

• Hawley of Missouri. After Trump’s announcement, Hawley tweeted that he has no interest in the position. Hawley was a former Missouri attorney general and a former clerk for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

• Former deputy White House counsel Kate Comerford Todd, who reportedly helped draft the short list, according to the Washington Post. She formerly clerked for Thomas and was previously a partner at Wiley Rein & Fielding.

• Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Black lawyer who is a protege of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

• U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau, a former appellate lawyer at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. Landau was a law clerk to Thomas and the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

• Florida Supreme Court Justice Carlos Muñiz, former general counsel for the U.S. Department of Education.

• Clement, who was solicitor general in the George W. Bush administration. Clement is a partner at Kirkland & Ellis. He has presented more than 100 arguments before the Supreme Court. He formerly clerked for Scalia.

• Francisco, who served in the Trump administration and returned to Jones Day after leaving his government post in July. He formerly clerked for Scalia.

• Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel, who leads the DOJ’s office of legal counsel. He formerly clerked for then-Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

• U.S. District Judge Martha Pacold of the Northern District of Illinois, an appointee of Trump and a former law clerk for Thomas. She is former deputy general counsel of the Treasury Department, former counsel to the U.S. attorney general and a former partner at Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott.

• Pitlyk of the Eastern District of Missouri, an appointee of Trump. The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary gave Pitlyk a “not qualified” rating because of a lack of trial or litigation experience. She is a former law clerk for Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh when he was a judge for the D.C. Circuit. She has also worked as special counsel for the Thomas More Society, where she defended laws restricting abortions.

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