On Wednesday, President Donald Trump released a new list of potential Supreme Court nominees should he win re-election in November. For decades, left-leaning Supreme Court justices had repeatedly used their judicial position to twist the Constitution to support their agenda. As president, Trump restored the judiciary, nominating judges who hold an originalist interpretation of the text — supporting the original public meaning of the Constitution and its amendments.
“Apart from matters of war and peace, the nomination of a Supreme Court justice is the most important decision an American president can make,” Trump declared. He said candidates for president “owe the American people” a list of potential Supreme Court nominees, such as Trump provided in 2016. He touted Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, whom the president nominated and the U.S. Senate confirmed.
“By the end of my first term, we will have confirmed a record number of federal judges, over 300, all of whom will faithfully uphold our Consitution as written,” he declared.
“What has always made America exceptional is our reverence for the impartial rule of law,” Trump added. “Equality under the law is the bedrock of our society, it is the principle that inspired American heroes to abolish slavery and end segregation, secure civil rights, and build the most free and just nation in history.”
“Unfortunately, there is a growing radical-left movement that rejects the principle of equal treatment under the law. If this extreme movement is granted a majority on the Supreme Court, it will fundamentally transform America without a single vote of Congress,” Trump warned.
The president painted a terrifying picture of what a radical-left-majority Supreme Court would do if given the chance. While some of his predictions seem hyperbolic, many of his warnings logically follow from much of what the Left has advocated in recent years.
“Radical justices will erase the Second Amendment, silence political speech, and require taxpayers to fund extreme late-term abortion. They will give unelected bureaucrats the power to destroy millions of American jobs. They will remove the words ‘Under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance. They will unilaterally declare the death penalty unconstitutional, even for the most depraved mass murderers. They will erase national borders, cripple police departments, and grant new protections to anarchists, rioters, violent criminals, and terrorists,” he warned.
“In the recent past, many of our most treasured freedoms, including religious liberty, freedom of speech, and the right to keep and bear arms, have been saved by a single vote on the United States Supreme Court. Our cherished rights are at risk, including the right to life and the Second Amendment,” the president added.
Indeed, cases like Citizens United v. FEC (2010), Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014), Janus v. AFSCME (2018), and many more have hinged on one Supreme Court justice to defend the rights of free speech and religious freedom. Democrats have pledged to nominate justices who would reverse Citizens United and extend Roe v. Wade (1973).
Trump warned that the November election will determine “whether we hold fast to our nation’s founding principles or whether they are lost forever.” He mentioned that the next president will nominate “one, two, three, and even four Supreme Court justices.”
He urged Democratic nominee Joe Biden to release his own list of potential nominees.
Finally, the president released his list. He restated some of the names he mentioned previously: William Pryor (chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit), Amy Coney Barrett (judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals), and Thomas Hardiman (judge on the 3rd Court of Appeals).
Then Trump released 20 new names, whom he hailed as “jurists in the mold of Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.” The names are:
- Bridget Bade, a judge on 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
- Daniel Cameron, the attorney general of Kentucky
- Paul Clement, former solicitor general of the United States
- Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)
- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
- Stuart Kyle Duncan, a judge on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
- Stephen Engel, assistant attorney general for the office of legal counsel in the Trump administration
- Noel Francisco, former solicitor general of the United States
- Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)
- James Ho, a judge on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
- Gregory Katsas, a judge on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals
- Barbara Lagoa, a judge on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
- Christopher Landau, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico
- Carlos Muniz, a justice on the Florida Supreme Court
- Martha Pacold, a judge on the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- Peter Phipps, a judge on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals
- Sarah Pitlyk, a judge on the District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
- Alison Jones Rushing, a judge on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals
- Kate Todd, a deputy assistant a deputy counsel to the president
- Lawrence VanDyke, a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
“Every one of these individuals will ensure equal justice, equal treatment, and equal rights for citizens of every race, color, religion, and creed,” Trump promised. “Together we will defend our righteous heritage and preserve our magnificent American way of life.”
Responses from Cotton and Hawley
“I’m honored that President Trump asked me to consider serving on the Supreme Court and I’m grateful for his confidence. I will always heed the call of service to our nation,” Cotton tweeted after the president named him. “The Supreme Court could use some more justices who understand the difference between applying the law and making the law, which the Court does when it invents a right to an abortion, infringes on religious freedom, and erodes the Second Amendment.”
Hawley, however, said he has no interest in serving on the Supreme Court.
“I appreciate the President’s confidence in listing me as a potential Supreme Court nominee,” the senator wrote on Twitter. “But as I told the President, Missourians elected me to fight for them in the Senate, and I have no interest in the high court. I look forward to confirming constitutional conservatives.”
Democrats have already attacked two of the judges on Trump’s list, Alison Rushing and Amy Coney Barrett, for their faith. In October 2018, Senate Democrats condemned Rushing for speaking at events sponsored by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian law firm falsely branded a “hate group” by the scandal-plagued smear factory the Southern Poverty Law Center. Sen. Dianne Feinstein infamously attacked Barrett saying, “The dogma lives loudly within you.” Feinstein also referenced the SPLC in attacking Barrett for speaking at ADF events.
Kelly Shackelford, president, CEO, and chief counsel at First Liberty Institute, praised Trump’s record on judicial nominations as “nothing short of astounding, with a record number of judges dedicated to originalist Constitutional principles nominated and confirmed to the federal judiciary.” Shackelford said the president’s expanded list “continues to fulfill his promise to nominate excellent judges who are committed to protecting the freedom of all Americans.”
Maureen Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Catholic Association, praised the president’s list and added, “Voters are left to wonder why Joe Biden won’t treat them with the same respect and release a list of his own.”
Planned Parenthood, by contrast, treated the president’s names as an enemy’s list, warning that these people “will actively work against your civil and [reproductive] rights.”
The Supreme Court is a tremendously important election issue, as Democratic nominee Joe Biden has pledged not to nominate any judges or justices who oppose the basic logic behind the disastrous abortion decision Roe v. Wade (1973), which preposterously claimed that a right to abortion falls under the “penumbra” of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Trump nominated Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Although Gorsuch and Kavanaugh have arguably made some mistakes (most notoriously in the transgender ruling Bostock v. Clayton County), they have generally upheld originalism in contrast to activist justices like those Biden would nominate.
Key issues like the sanctity of human life, the Second Amendment, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of association hang in the balance on November 3.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.