Supreme Court Nominations

Trump plans to nominate a woman to replace Ginsburg; who are the top contenders?

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President Donald Trump told Fox & Friends on Monday that he hopes to name a successor to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg this upcoming Friday or Saturday. Ginsburg died this past Friday at age 87 from complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas.

Fox News, the New York Times, CNN and the Washington Post have coverage of Trump’s comments on his upcoming decision.

“I think [the announcement] will be on Friday or Saturday, and we want to pay respect,” Trump said. “It looks like we will have services on Thursday or Friday, as I understand it, and I think we should, with all due respect for Justice Ginsburg, wait for services to be over.”

Trump said his upcoming announcement will leave “plenty of time” for a confirmation vote before the election.

“The bottom line is we won the election, we have an obligation to do what’s right and act as quickly as possible,” he said.

Trump said the candidates on his short list are all excellent.

“These are the smartest people, the smartest young people, you like to go young, because they’re there for a long time,” Trump said.

Trump’s comments follow a statement Friday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saying Trump’s nominee will receive a Senate vote.

These judges—who are among 12 women on Trump’s list of 44 possible Supreme Court candidates—are said to be at the top of the list, according to the New York Times, NPR, Bloomberg Law, the Los Angeles Times and ABC News.

Trump mentioned these two judges in a telephone call with McConnell, according to anonymous sources who spoke with some of the publications.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, 48, of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Chicago. Barrett was formerly an associate at Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin and a professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School, where she was a member of Faculty for Life, an anti-abortion group at the university. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School and a former clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. She has seven children, two of them adopted from Haiti.

Judge Barbara Lagoa, 52, of the 11th Circuit at Atlanta. A Cuban American, Lagoa formerly was a lawyer at Greenberg Traurig, a federal prosecutor, and a Florida appeals judge and a Florida Supreme Court justice. Some think Lagoa could help Trump garner Cuban American voters in the swing state of Florida. She is a graduate of the Columbia University Law School.

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Several stories (here, here and here) also identified this judge as a leading contender, even though Trump has pledged to nominate a woman:

• Judge Amul Thapar, 51, of the 6th Circuit at Cincinnati. A South Asian American, was a federal judge in Kentucky before Trump nominated him to the 6th Circuit. He is also a former U.S. attorney and a former lawyer at Williams & Connolly and Squire, Sanders & Dempsey. He attended the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. Thapar is close with McConnell and has performed well in TV interviews, according to Bloomberg Law.

This judge is also said to be on the short list, according to the New York Times, NPR and ABC News:

• Judge Allison Jones Rushing, 38, of the 4th Circuit at Richmond, Virginia. Rushing was a Williams & Connolly partner before her 4th Circuit confirmation. Rushing is a graduate of the Duke University School of Law, a former law clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, and a former law clerk for Justice Neil M. Gorsuch when he was a federal appeals judge.

The New York Times also mentions this potential nominee:

• Deputy White House counsel Kate Comerford Todd. Formerly, she was chief counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Litigation Center; a partner with Wiley, Rein & Fielding; and a White House staffer during the George W. Bush administration. She is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and a former clerk for Thomas.

These potential candidates are also getting mentioned:

• Judge Joan Larsen, 51, of the 6th Circuit at Cincinnati. Larsen formerly was a Michigan Supreme Court justice, a faculty member at the University of Michigan Law School, a lawyer with Sidley Austin, and deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel in the George W. Bush administration. She is a graduate of the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and a former clerk for Scalia.

• Judge Allison Eid, 55, of the 10th Circuit at Denver. Eid is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School and a former clerk for Thomas. She formerly was Colorado’s solicitor general and a Colorado Supreme Court justice.

• Judge Britt Grant, 42, of the 11th Circuit at Atlanta. Grant was formerly a Georgia Supreme Court justice, solicitor general and counsel for legal policy in the state attorney general’s office. She also was a lawyer with Kirkland & Ellis. She is a graduate of the Stanford University Law School and a former clerk to Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh when he was a federal appeals judge.

Other female judges on Trump’s 44-judge short list are Judge Bridget Bade of the 9th Circuit at San Francisco, Judge Martha Pacold of the Northern District of Illinois, Judge Sarah Pitlyk of the Eastern District of Missouri, Judge Margaret Ryan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and Judge Diane Sykes of the 7th Circuit at Chicago.

The Volokh Conspiracy warns that any judge who is nominated could fail to win nomination, making that person “the next Merrick Garland. There is a stigma to having been rejected. Just ask Robert Bork or Harriet Miers. It is not easy to live with that defeat. No one wants to be rendered Persona Non Garland. Any nominee must be willing to walk into the slaughter, knowing they may get slaughtered.”

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