President Donald Trump said via Twitter that he will announce his pick for Supreme Court on Tuesday at 8 p.m. The top contenders, according to various reports, are all federal judges and include Diane Sykes, Thomas Hardiman, Bill Pryor, and Neil Gorsuch. Most recent reports indicate Trump is now down to just two: Pryor and Gorsuch. As to be expected, however, all four have impeccable conservative records. We’ve put together an unscientific poll to check in with our loyal readers about who you think Trump should pick. We’ve included a description of each potential nominee below the poll so you can better inform yourself before voting.
Judge Thomas Hardiman currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Don’t expect the court’s ideological balance to change much. Scalia was a conservative jurist. So is Hardiman. Then again, he’s harder to pin down on issues than the other possible nominees, at least on hot button issues like women’s reproductive rights. A ScotusBlog profile from Jan. 23 called him a “solid, although hardly knee-jerk, conservative who was active in Republican politics before joining the federal bench.” They said he has yet to directly weigh in on abortion, while The Advocate pointed out his judicial stance on LGBT rights has “yet to surface.”
Second Amendment enthusiasts will probably like this potential. He dissented in 2013’s Drake v. Filko, arguing that a New Jersey law couldn’t require a “justifiable need” for handgun permits. Hardiman also wrote the opinion in 2016’s Binderup v. Attorney General which protected guns rights for those convicted of nonviolent felonies. He is also a favorite of Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry.
Judge William Pryor
Judge William Pryor currently serves on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Not surprisingly, Pryor has a reputation for being conservative. According to SCOTUSblog, he wrote a brief in defense of Texas’ anti-sodomy law that was shot down by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas and said that Roe v. Wade was the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law.” Pryor typically rules against defendants in criminal cases. In some areas, Pryor is more of a wild card. While he generally favors the government in immigration cases, the conservative judge has sided with people seeking asylum based on fear of persecution for their sexual orientation.
Judge Neil Gorsuch is best known for upholding religious rights in court battles involving the Affordable Health Care Act (aka Obamacare). Gorsuch was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush in 2006 as a member of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
According to SCOTUSblog, Gorsuch “is celebrated as a keen legal thinker and a particularly incisive legal writer, with a flair that matches — or at least evokes — that of the justice whose seat he would be nominated to fill.” In fact, in a study called Searching for Justice Scalia: Measuring the ‘Scalia-ness’ of the Next Potential Member of the U.S. Supreme Court, Gorsuch earned high marks in several categories important to the late Justice Scalia, including “originalism” and “textualism.” Like Scalia, Gorsuch has gained notoriety for his lively judicial writing style.
Judge Diane Sykes
Judge Diana Sykes, 59, is a United States Circuit Judge for the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice.
She was nominated by George W. Bush and confirmed in 2004. She was dropped as a name for the U.S. Supreme Court under President George W. Bush. She will probably appease conservative on gun rights as Sykes was part of the 2011 panel that held a Chicago ban on firing range was unconstitutional. She came out against Chicago’s ban on firing ranges inside city limits, finding they were protected by the Second Amendment. In Korte v. Sebelius, Sykes wrote a sweeping opinion in favor of religious protection for the religious preferences of corporations and their individual owners in the fight over Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate.
LawNewz editors Alberto Luperon, Chris White, and Ronn Blitzer all contributed to this report.