Among 10 new names, one is an originalist, one a judicial traditionalist and one said firing a hygienist for tempting a dentist was not unlawful discrimination
On Friday morning, the Trump campaign announced its latest round of potential supreme court nominees, raising to 21 the billionaires list of publicly named potential nominees to succeed Antonin Scalia, who died in February.
Trump may have had a specific reason for adding to the list of 11 potential nominees he released in May. Last week, the Huffington Post reported that the billionaire PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel the moneyman who funded the Hulk Hogan lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker Media had been assured the nomination, a story both Thiel and the Trump campaign denied. Thiel, who has a law degree but only practiced for seven months, was not seen as a particularly conservative choice.
The latest list, probably designed to further assuage the concerns of conservatives over Trumps judicial philosophy both whether he has one and what it is is not exactly a whos-who of judicial superstars.
The legal analyst and political science professor Scott Lemieux said Trumps nominees were continuing his tradition of going with generic Federalist Society hacks, which is in fact the kind of judge hed nominate.
The Federalist Society is a conservative legal group that advocates for constitutional originalism, a philosophy which says questions of law should be decided solely on the basis of the words of the constitution and the intention of those who wrote it. Decisions that legalized abortion, consensual sex between same-sex couples, interracial marriage and, arguably, even the desegregation of schools are not in keeping with this philosophy.
There are, however, some notable reasons that each Trump pick would be thrilling to conservatives and horrifying to liberals.
Utah senator Mike Lee
The only name on the list widely known outside legal circles, the conservative senator Mike Lee has made well-known his dislike of the partys presidential nominee. That might not be a problem, though: Texas supreme court justice Don Willett, who made the first list, wasnt exactly a card-carrying Trump supporter.
Lee told Politico in a statement that he was not interested in a slot on the court. Still, the man who rode to the Senate on the Tea Party wave of 2010 has an extremely conservative legal philosophy, to the right of originalism. Lee is what is known as a tenther, adhering to a philosophy that holds that the 10th amendment of the constitution, which reserves for state government any power not allocated to the federal government, essentially makes much government regulation and spending unconstitutional. As ThinkProgress noted, Lee has said he believes federal laws prohibiting child labor, as well as laws establishing Medicare, social security and, of course, the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare) are unconstitutional.
Gorsuch was appointed by George W Bush to the 10th circuit court of appeals, in Denver, Colorado, and is a frequent member of Republican-leaning supreme court shortlists.
His only book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, was intended to bolster the case against its legalization its publisher called it his central thesis the idea that human life is intrinsically valuable and that intentional killing is always wrong. In 2012, Michael Fragoso, a longtime pro-life advocate and current counsel to Arizona senator Jeff Flake, called Gorsuch and other young Bush-era judicial appointees as good a college of judicial cardinals as the conservative and pro-life movements have ever seen.
Gorsuch has notably used his time on the federal bench to criticize the existing volume of federal regulation as potentially unconstitutional on a variety of grounds, a point he has made in at least one public speech as well.
Margaret A Ryan
Ryan, a US Marine Corps veteran who was deployed to Saudi Arabia during the first gulf war, is a civilian judge on the US court of appeals for the armed forces, a 15-year appointment made by Bush in 2006. The court on which she serves hears appeals under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is distinct from the laws that govern civilian life.
In that role, she presided over a case brought by, among others, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the former Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, in the Chelsea Manning trial, seeking access to court and trial documents to which the media was denied access. She sided with the appeals courts majority, which argued that it did not have jurisdiction to force a military court to make the disclosures requested.
That was not the only time Ryan ruled that the court on which she serves lacked the jurisdiction to overrule military judges. In a 2013 case in which a marine private who attempted suicide pleaded guilty to trying to avoid service after not receiving mental healthcare, she dissented from the majority opinion that the judge had sentenced the marine improperly, arguing that the appeals judges lacked jurisdiction.
Though a military judicial record leaves less of a trail of opinions on hot button conservative issues, Ryan did clerk for the supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, an avowed conservative who is also prone to arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction.
Mansfield is an Iowa supreme court justice appointed by the conservative governor Terry Bradstad in 2011, after three of the justices who legalized same sex marriage in the state in 2009 were voted out of office.
His first brush with national prominence came in 2012, when he authored the courts majority opinion in an employment law case: Melissa Nelson, a dental hygienist, sued her boss, James Knight, for gender discrimination after he fired her supposedly for the sake of his marriage. Knight had suggested that Nelson wear less revealing clothing to the office because of his attraction to her, according to the decision, and at one point suggested her standard for what was too revealing be if she saw his pants bulging. Her firing, he said, was unrelated to gender. Mansfield and the court agreed, stating that this conduct did not amount to unlawful discrimination.
In a May 2016 decision, Mansfield dissented with the majority of the court that held that sentencing underage defendants to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole was unconstitutional. Mansfield wrote that inherent uncertainty regarding future prospects for rehabilitation is simply an insufficient basis for supplanting the judgment of our elected representatives.
Blackwell is a Georgia supreme court justice best known in conservative circles for being the deputy special attorney general representing the state in its ultimately unsuccessful effort to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional. He is also a strong gun rights supporter, telling students in 2013 that the second amendment guaranteeing the right to bear arms was part of the writers intent to limit government because there is only so much the government could do if the people are armed.