The Corner

Law & the Courts

Intensely Debating Whether to Order the Steak, the Lobster, or the Ribs

Numerous media reports claim that President Trump has narrowed his choices for the Supreme Court to a trio of appeals-court judges: Brett Kavanaugh of Maryland, Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, and Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana.

It’s been fascinating to watch certain voices on the right get really fired up for or against a particular potential Supreme pick.

Politico reports that Texas senator Ted Cruz privately contends that Kavanaugh is “unreliable.” (Our Ed Whelan is a fan and Miguel Estrada calls the attacks on Kavanaugh “deranged.”)

Ann Coulter argues Kethledge is too sympathetic to the legal rights of illegal immigrants; today on NRO, Roger Meyer argues he faithfully applies the law as it is written.

This is like choosing between steak, lobster, or barbecued ribs (or insert any three of your favorite foods). While they’re all a little different, they’re all pretty darn good.

Today Jonah writes about how Trump would be wise stick to his list of 25 potential choices. Trump’s selection of Neil Gorsuch strengthened the “Trump is worth it for conservatives” and “Trump keeps his promises” arguments. Picking someone who isn’t on the list weakens the latter and, depending upon the pick, maybe the former, too.

But it’s worth noting that in each version of Trump’s list — heavily shaped by conservative legal minds at the Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society — didn’t include any bad ones. In the eyes of most conservative court watchers, the entire list of 25 ranged from pretty darn good to really, really good. Maybe you would prefer to see a state supreme-court judge selected instead of a federal judge. Perhaps you consider youth and likely length of time on the Supreme Court as a critical factor. Perhaps you’re looking for decisions and opinions in a particular area of policy or law.

Right now, the worst-case scenario for conservatives is that Trump selects only one of the “pretty good” options instead of one of the really, really good ones.

(For what it’s worth, I think Ramesh’s argument in favor of Barrett is pretty compelling.)

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