Since Anthony Kennedy made the decision to step down from his seat on the United States Supreme Court, there has been much debate about who would replace the justice. The political left has been terrified that whoever it is will overturn the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, and the political right has mostly just hoped for a judge who would stand for the Constitution and show some care for the Second Amendment in particular.
However, rumors are swirling, suggesting that of the roughly 25 highly-qualified legal minds on his ‘short list,’ President Donald Trump has narrowed the list down to a handful, and in fact has said that he has already decided on his SCOTUS pick. According to White House officials and those involved in the discussions, three particular names have come to the top. Speculation is rife, but these three have all one thing in common. The president has not relied on one person only for advice, he’s listening to everyone.
However, that does not necessarily mean that any of them will get the nod, as the President is still allegedly ‘fluid’ in his decision-making process, and seeking input from associates and confidants concerning his choice.
That being said, the three on the ‘short list’ derived from his other shortlist represent good choices.
Kavanaugh is a judge on the United States Circuit Court, specifically the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Kavanaugh has a law degree from Yale Law School, where he served as the Notes Editor of the Yale Law Journal. He also clerked for Anthony Kennedy, the man whose position he could fill.
The one big problem he could face is the actual confirmation vote. His confirmation to the Circuit Court after a nomination from George W. Bush was held up for nearly three years, mostly due to claims of partisanship.
However, for those on the political right, his history of jurisprudence is very desirable. He dissented against the court when it claimed Obamacare was legal, he said that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau could be sued and its constitutionality could be charged, and he generally came down on the ‘right’ side of most rulings.
Perhaps his most famous decision came in In re United States, a 2016 case. In that case, the Tea Party Patriots had filed a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service to disclose a number of records, including the list of groups they had targeted.
The IRS, rather than turning over that information, appealed, and Kethledge wrote the opinion for the unanimous decision by the Sixth. In the opinion, he openly condemned the IRS for trying to avoid turning over information in discovery and for stonewalling the court and the public.
Amy Coney Barrett is a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and previously taught law at Notre Dame Law School.
Barrett received her law degree from Notre Dame Law School, and spent a year as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice and famed originalist legal mind Antonin Scalia. She was appointed to her current position by President Trump, however, which means that she may not have enough time on the bench to be seriously considered.
Many involved in the discussions have suggested that the shortlist is down to Kavanaugh and Kethledge.
Vice President Mike Pence met with Judge Kavanaugh in the Vice President’s residence on the Fourth of July, and the meeting went well, suggesting that he may be the next person to sit on the Supreme Court if all goes according to plan.
According to Donald Trump, who spoke with reporters while he was en route to Montana on Thursday, he will announce his decision on Monday.
It will be interesting to see who the President chooses. Of the two who he is leaning toward, both are in their early 50’s, meaning that Donald J. Trump’s choice could place someone on the court for thirty years or more. Hopefully, that somebody will believe in the constitution, and not judicial activism from the bench.