This morning I was quoted in the New York Post on President Trump’s addition of five more names to his list of potential Supreme Court nominees. Given the blizzard of news in recent days, Trump’s latest Supreme Court list has been somewhat lost in the shuffle. But it is actually quite interesting. Some observations:
1) Some have suggested that the point of releasing this list is to support Roy Moore by reminding Alabama voters of the importance of keeping the Senate in Republican hands, particularly since one of those on the list is an Alabaman. I don’t put much credence in this theory; releasing an addendum to the president’s already-long list of potential nominees is an awfully subtle way to make this fundamental point.
So then, why did Trump release the list? Maybe because he has information about a likely resignation from the Court, and leans toward appointing someone–or at least wants to seriously consider someone–who wasn’t on his initial lists.
2) One of the five is Amy Coney Barrett, the Notre Dame law professor who was confirmed to the 7th Circuit only a few weeks ago. Judiciary Committee Democrats attacked Barrett for being a Catholic, and got considerable criticism for doing so. It is the Democrats’ position, apparently, that only atheists are qualified to sit on the Court. Perhaps President Trump will dare them to make this argument before a broader public than the one that follows Judiciary Committee hearings.
3) Another of the possible nominees is Brett Kavanaugh, now of the D.C. Circuit. Those with long memories will recall that in 2006, Kavanaugh was one of a number of nominees who were blockaded by Senate Democrats. We covered the battle over Kavanaugh’s nomination extensively, e.g. here. After a long delay, Kavanaugh was finally confirmed. No doubt his nomination to the Supreme Court would give Democrats palpitations.
4) Two of the judges on Trump’s new list are shockingly young. Georgia’s Britt Grant is 39–young enough to have clerked for Judge Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit–and Oklahoma’s Patrick Wyrick is only 36. Both have served on their respective states’ supreme courts for less than a year. I see Trump’s inclusion of these names as an implicit threat to the Democrats. Whoever gets the next nomination (assuming a vacancy occurs during the remainder of Trump’s term) will be anathema to Democrats. But I think Trump is saying, if you don’t like my nominee and somehow succeed in blocking him or her, keep in mind that I just might nominate someone who could be a thorn in your side for 40 years or more.