Genuine good news for conservatives from the Trump campaign today. The likely GOP nominee, no doubt feeling unbearable heat from my column this morning, released that list of eleven potential Supreme Court nominees that he discussed two months ago.
Trump’s list includes Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Steven Colloton, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Allison Eid, Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Raymond Gruender, Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Hardiman, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Raymond Kethledge, Michigan Supreme Court Associate Justice Joan Larsen, Utah Supreme Court Associate Justice Thomas Lee (brother of Sen. Mike Lee), Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals William H. Pryor, Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice David Stras, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Diane Sykes, and Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett.
The great legal minds of the Right will offer more detailed assessments, but at first glance, these are all names that conservatives would want to see and no names they wouldn’t want to see.
One of the most common, and least-easily-ignored questions from Trump fans to #NeverTrump conservatives was, “But what about judges? Don’t you care about the Supreme Court?” Hillary Clinton’s judicial nominees would be awful, but there was little guarantee that Trump, who clearly doesn’t spend much time thinking about judicial philosophy, strict constructionism, or the role of the courts in setting policy, would consistently pick better judges. (Supreme Court selections have been a crapshoot for Republican presidents for a generation. Reagan picked Anthony Kennedy, George H.W. Bush picked David Souter and George W. Bush picked John Roberts.)
With this list, and the faith that Trump will keep his word and nominate justices from this list — cue skeptical laughter — conservatives can point to one genuine gain that a President Trump would deliver. Supreme Court justices like these would make autocracy, a likely nuclear exchange, the collapse of the dollar and the dissolution of NATO easier to bear.