Back in February, during one of the Republican debates, Donald Trump was pretty specific about the kind of jurists he’d like to see added to the Supreme Court in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing: Judges Diane Sykes and Bill Pryor, both of whom are far-right Bush/Cheney appointees. Yesterday, however, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee went much further.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Wednesday released the names of 11 potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees that he would choose from to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.The list, first reported by the Associated Press, includes judges from around the country: Steven Colloton of Iowa, Allison Eid of Colorado and Raymond Gruender of Missouri, Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, Joan Larsen of Michigan, Thomas Lee of Utah, William Pryor of Alabama, David Stras of Minnesota, Diane Sykes of Wisconsin and Don Willett of Texas.
Trump’s list, released in a written press statement yesterday afternoon, will reportedly be a “guide”: the Republican didn’t say he would definitely choose from these 11 when nominating Supreme Court justices, but these are the kind of folks he’d consider.
And for the right, that’s probably reassuring. The future of the judiciary is one of the top considerations for many conservative leaders, and it’s been a leading cause for concern among far-right Trump skeptics. Yesterday’s announcement was no doubt intended to assuage their fears, making it abundantly clear that Trump has every intention of moving the judiciary to the right by releasing a list of 11 very conservative jurists.
Of course, at the same time, the developments should also serve as a reminder to the left: those hoping that Trump might lean towards moderation when nominating judges are obviously mistaken. Trump expects to name as many as five justices to the Supreme Court, and the consequences would be felt by Americans for at least a generation, if not more.
But as much of the political world considers Trump’s list and its potential impact, there’s one name in particular that’s worth paying attention to.
Right Wing Watch noted yesterday that the Republican candidate probably should’ve vetted the list a little more closely before releasing it.
One of the potential Supreme Court nominees Trump mentions, Justice Don Willett of the Texas Supreme Court, has relentlessly taunted Trump on his Twitter page, where he has said he cried at the prospect of Trump picking Supreme Court justices, mocked the candidate’s policies and statements and even joked that the GOP presidential candidate may be Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in disguise.
Willett, despite his role on the Texas Supreme Court, maintains a fairly active social-media profile, and he’s been, shall we say, candid about his thoughts on Trump’s presidential candidacy. Over and over again, Willett has mocked the Republican for his beliefs, suspect business practices, religiosity, and electability.
At one point last summer – in a tweet that has not yet been removed – the Texas judge went so far as to say his “mind reels” when imagining whom “the Donald” would nominate to the high court.
Or put another way, Donald Trump thinks Don Willett is qualified for the Supreme Court, but Don Willett doesn’t seem altogether sure about Donald Trump’s qualifications for the presidency.