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Who Are the Possible Trump Supreme Court Nominees? We Break It Down


In March, Donald Trump promised to release a list of potential Supreme Court justices that he would consider if elected. Today, he made good on that promise with a list of 11 names. put together some background on each of the potentials, and will update accordingly as we find out more information.  As to be expected, they all have conservative credentials.

Who is Diane S. Sykes?

Sykes is a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She was nominated by George W. Bush and confirmed in 2004. She went to Northwestern University and attended Marquette University Law School. She was dropped as a name for the U.S. Supreme Court under President George W. Bush. She was part of the 2011 panel that held a Chicago ban on firing ranges unconstitutional. Prior to being appointed on the federal court, Sykes served as Justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Who is Bill Pryor?

Pryor is a federal judge in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2003. His nomination was filibustered so in 2004, President Bush installed the former Alabama Attorney General on the court during a congressional recess appointment. Democrats scrutinized Pryor for some of his conservative positions, including on Roe v. Wade. Pryor previously said, according to confirmation hearing testimony, that Roe was “the worst abomination in constitutional law in history.”  After a higher court ruling on a Alabama execution case, he allegedly ridiculed the Supreme Court by saying “This issue should not be decided by nine octogenarian lawyers who happen to sit on the Supreme Court.” Most recently, Pryor was nominated by President Obama to sit on the United States Sentencing Commission.

Who is David Stras?

David Stras is an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. He joined the court in 2010. He also taught at the University of Minnesota Law School for about 4 years. He attended the University of Kansas School of Law. Stras clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court. Interestingly, he was also a writer for SCOTUSBLOG for three years, but resigned after being appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court by Governor Pawlenty.

Who is Joan Larsen?

Joan L. Larsen earned her JD, magna cum laude, from Northwestern University School of Law. She clerked for the Hon. David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and for Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court.  She also worked for Sidley & Austin’s Washington, D.C., office and focused her practice on Constitutional, Criminal, and Civil Litigation law.  Larsen also served as deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.  She is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan School of Law.

Who is Raymond Kethledge?

Raymond M. Kethledge was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on July 8, 2008. After receiving his JD from Michigan Law School in 1993,  Kethledge clerked for Judge Ralph B. Guy, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and for Justice Anthony Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Kethledge also worked for the United States Senate and then founded his own law firm that focused on class-action litigation.

Who is Don Willett?

Justice Don Willett has served on the Supreme Court of Texas since 2005, when appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry. Before that, he was a Deputy Texas Attorney General under then-Attorney General (now Gov.) Greg Abbott. His career has taken him to stints at the U.S. Department of Justice, and George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. He got his J.D. from Duke University. Seems like a qualified guy, but he has tweeted a lot of jokes at Trump’s expense.

Who is Thomas Lee?

Thomas R. Lee was appointed to the Utah Supreme Court in July 2010.  Lee graduated, with high honors, from the University of Chicago Law School. He served as a law clerk for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, III, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and for Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court.  Prior to his appointment, Lee taught as a professor a Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School and maintained a part-time private practice with a law firm that focused on intellectual property law.

Lee also spent time as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Who is Steven Colloton?

Colloton currently serves on the Eighth Circuit Court of appeals. He is a graduate of Yale Law School and a former clerk for former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Prior to joining the Eighth Circuit Court, he was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa. He was also an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Iowa from 1990 to 1991, and an associate independent counsel in the Office of Independent Counse Kenneth Starr in 1995 and 1996.

Who is Allison Eid?

Eid is a Justice on the Colorado State Supreme Court. She is a former Solicitor General for that state, and was a professor at the University of Colorado School of Law, where she taught Constitutional Law, Legislation, and Torts. She is a graduate of University of Chicago Law School and a former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas.

Who is Raymond Gruender?

Gruender is a judge on the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals. Prior to taking that role, he was U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. He spent nine years in private practice at Lewis, Ric and Fingersh, as well as Thompson Coburn. He earned his MBA and law degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

Who is Thomas Hardiman?

Hardiman currently serves on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. He was previously a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Before becoming a judge, he worked in private practice at the law firms Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom; Titus & McConomy; and Reed Smith. He is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center.

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