Meet Trump’s Candidates for Upcoming Supreme Court Vacancy

June 29, 2018 2:39 pm Last Updated: July 9, 2018 8:19 pm

With Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy set to retire on July 31, President Donald Trump has an opportunity to reshape the nation’s top court for years to come.

Kennedy informed the president about his plan to retire six months ago. The justice made the plan official in a letter to the White House on June 27.

Trump said on June 27 that he will select the appointee from a list of 25 candidates, which was released in November last year.

“We will begin our search for the new justice of the United States Supreme Court. That will begin immediately,” Trump said on June 27. “Hopefully we’ll get to pick someone who is as outstanding.”

The list is filled with decidedly conservative candidates with stellar track records. Trump had previously thanked the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, both powerful conservative organizations, for helping him compile the list.

Here is what we know about the 25 candidates, in alphabetical order:

Amy Barrett

Amy Coney Barrett, 46, presides over the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Indiana. She was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Barret graduated from Rhodes College and attended Notre Dame Law School. She clerked for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a constitutional conservative. After her clerkship, Barrett worked in private practice and moved on to become a law professor at the Notre Dame Law School. Trump nominated Barrett for a seat on the Seventh Circuit in May last year. The Senate confirmed Barrett in October 2017. She was one of five conservative justices added to Trump’s list of candidates in November. Barrett is a mother of seven children, including a special needs child and two children adopted from Haiti.

Keith Blackwell

Keith Robert Blackwell, 42, is an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia. Blackwell was born and raised in Cherokee County, Georgia. Blackwell graduated from the University of Georgia and attended the University of Georgia School of Law. Blackwell clerked for Judge J.L. Edmondson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He went on to work in private practice and as an assistant district attorney. Blackwell lives in Cobb County, Georgia, with his wife and three daughters.

Charles Canady

Charles Terrance Canady, 54, is a Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida. He was born in Lakeland, Florida. Canady graduated from Haverford College and the Yale University School of Law. Canady started his career in private practice and served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives for six years. Two years later, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992 and served four terms. Canady introduced the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 1995. The bill passed both houses but was vetoed by former President Bill Clinton.

Steven Colloton

Steven Colloton, 55, is a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He was born in Iowa City, Iowa. He is the son of John W. Colloton the former director and CEO for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Colloton graduated from Princeton University and Yale Law School. Colloton clerked for Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist, the head of the nation’s court system. Colloton spent most of his career as a public servant, notably as part of Kenneth Starr’s investigation of the Clinton administration. Colloton was appointed to the Eighth Circuit by George W. Bush and confirmed in 2003.

Allison Eid

Allison Hartwell Eid, 53, is a United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Eid was born in Seattle and raised in Spokane, Washington. She graduated from Stanford University and the University of Chicago School of Law. Before law school, she served as a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Education, William Bennett. Eid clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Eid went on to private practice and then taught law at the at the University of Colorado Law School. In 2017, Trump nominated Eid to fill the Tenth Circuit seat vacated by Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. She was confirmed in November last year. Eid lives in Morrison, Colorado, with her husband and two children.

Britt Grant

Britt Cagle Grant, 40, is the judge of the Supreme Court of Georgia. She was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Grant graduated from Wake Forest University and Stanford Law school. Before receiving her law degree, Grant worked for then-Congressman Nathan Deal and took on various roles in the George W. Bush administration. She clerked for Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Trump nominated Grant to the Eleventh Circuit in April this year. Her nomination is still pending. Grant is married to a former CIA official and is a mother to three children.

Raymond Gruender

Raymond Gruender, 54, is a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Gruender graduated and received his law degree from Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to his nomination to the federal bench, Gruender worked both in private practice and public service. Gruender was the Missouri state director for Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. He worked as a U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri before President George W. Bush nominated him for the Eighth Circuit. Gruender was one of the judges Trump listed for candidacy for the Supreme Court seat in 2016.

Thomas Hardiman

Thomas Michael Hardiman, 52, is a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He was born in Winchester, Massachusetts. Hardiman graduated from the University of Notre Dame and Georgetown School of Law. Hardiman was in private practice for more than a decade before being nominated to the federal bench by President George W. Bush. Hardiman was confirmed in 2003. He was a finalist in Trump’s selection last year for the Supreme Court seat vacated by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The seat was ultimately filled by Justice Neil Gorsuch. Hardiman served alongside Trump’s sister, Judge Marianne Trump Barry. Considering his status as a finalist last year, Hardiman is considered a front-runner again.

Brett Kavanaugh

Brett Michael Kavanaugh, 53, is the judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was born in Washington, D.C. Kavanaugh graduated and received his law degree from Yale University. Kavanaugh clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose seat he is now being considered for. Kavanaugh played a key role in drafting the Starr report, which urged the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. He also led the probe into the suicide of Clinton aide Vincent Foster and worked on the Clinton-linked Whitewater investigation. George W. Bush nominated Kavanaugh to the federal bench in 2003. The nomination was stalled for three years. The Senate confirmed him in May 2006.

Raymond Kethledge

Raymond Michael Kethledge, 51, is the judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He was born in Summit, New Jersey, and grew up in Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan and received his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. Like Kavanaugh, Kethledge clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose seat he is now being considered for. In northern Michigan, Kethledge works out of an office he built in a family barn near Lake Huron. The office has a pine desk, a wood stove, and no internet. Since his confirmation in 2008, Kethledge authored a number of notable opinions.

Joan Larsen

Joan Louise Larsen, 49, serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She was born in Waterloo, Iowa. Larsen graduated from the University of Northern Iowa and received her law degree from Northwestern University. Larsen clerked for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Before Trump nominated her for the federal bench, Larsen was the judge for the Michigan Supreme Court. The Senate confirmed Larsen for the Eighth Circuit seat late last year. Larsen is a member of the Federalist Society, one of the nation’s most powerful conservative legal organizations.

Mike Lee

Michael Shumway Lee, 47, represents Utah in the U.S. Senate. He was born in Mesa, Arizona. Lee graduated from Brigham Young University and received his law degree from the same school. Lee clerked for future Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito when Alito served on the Third Circuit. Lee began his career in private practice and went on to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Utah. He then served as a legal counsel for the administration of Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. After returning to private practice for several years, Lee entered politics in 2010 and won the U.S. Senate race in Utah. Lee lives in Alpine, Utah, with his wife and three children.

Thomas Lee

Thomas Rex Lee, 53, is a judge of the Supreme Court of Utah. He grew up in Arizona, Utah, and Northern Virginia. Lee graduated from Brigham Young University and received his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Lee taught law at the J. Reuben Clark Law School since 1997. Lee was confirmed to the Utah Supreme Court in 2010. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, his mentor, administered his oath. When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died, Lee scored the highest on an index of judges who would be most likely to continue Scalia’s legacy.

Edward Mansfield

Edward M. Mansfield, 61, is the judge of the Supreme Court of Iowa. He was born in Massachusetts. Mansfield graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School. Mansfield was one of the three justices appointed by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad in 2011 to replace three judges who Iowa voters voted to remove in response to the state court’s unanimous ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. Trump named Mansfield as a potential appointee in September 2016.

Federico Moreno

Federico A. Moreno is a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. He was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He Graduated from the University of Notre Dame and received his law degree from the University of Miami School of Law. President George H.W. Bush nominated Moreno for the federal bench in 1990 and the Senate confirmed him the same year. Moreno served as the chief judge on the court from 2007 to 2014. Bush also nominated Moreno for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, but the nomination failed.

Kevin Newsom

Kevin Christopher Newsom, 45, is the judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Newsom graduated from Samford University and Harvard Law School. Newsome clerked for Justice David Souter of the United States Supreme Court from 1998 to 1999. Newsom worked for a private practice before being appointed Alabama’s second solicitor general. Trump nominated Newsom to the federal bench in May last year. The Senate confirmed him the following August. Newsome is married with two children.

William H. Pryor Jr.

William Holcombe Pryor Jr., 56, is the judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He was born in Mobile, Alabama. Pryor Jr. graduated from the Northeast Louisiana University and received his law degree from Tulane University. He became Alabama’s attorney general in 1997, the youngest state attorney general in the United States at the time. Pryor Jr. was in the national spotlight in 2003 when he called for the removal of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who disobeyed a federal order to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Building. Last year, he was rumored to be a top contender for the Supreme Court seat which was ultimately filled by Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Margaret Ryan

Margaret A. Ryan, 54, is the judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. She was born in Chicago, Illinois. Ryan graduated from Knox College and Notre Dame Law School. After graduating law school, she served on active duty for the United States Marine Corps from 1988 to 1992 and as a judge advocate from 1995 to 1999. Her tours included deployments in the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and Japan. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. George W. Bush appointed Ryan to the federal bench in 2006. She was confirmed the same year.

David Stras

David Ryan Stras, 43, is the judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He was born in Wichita, Kansas. Stras received his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Kansas. Stras clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court. In addition to working in private practice, he taught law at the University of Minnesota Law School from 2005 to 2010. Before Trump appointed him to the federal bench in 2017, Stras was the judge of the Minnesota Supreme Court. The Senate confirmed Stras for the Eighth Circuit in January this year. Stras is the grandson of Holocaust survivors. He is married and has two children.

Diane Sykes

Diane Schwerm Sykes, 60, is the judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sykes graduated from Northwestern University and received her law degree from Marquette University. Before serving on the federal bench, Sykes was the judge of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. George W. Bush appointed Sykes to the Seventh Circuit in 2003 and considered appointing her to the Supreme Court in 2005. She married conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes in 1980 and had two children. The couple divorced in 1999.

Amul Thapar

Amul Roger Thapar, 49, is the judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He was born in Troy, Michigan. Thapar graduated Boston College and received a law degree from the University of California Berkeley School of Law. Thapar taught law at the University of Cincinnati College, worked in a private practice, and served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., and in the Southern District of Ohio. George W. Bush nominated Thapar to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in 2007. He was confirmed the same year. Trump nominated Thapar for the Sixth Circuit in March last year. The Senate confirmed him in May 2017.

Timothy Tymkovich

Timothy Michael Tymkovich, 61, is the judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. He was born in Denver, Colorado. Tymkovich graduated Colorado College and received his law degree from the University of Colorado Law School. After working in private practice from 1983 to 1991, Tymkovich was appointed as the Solicitor General of the State of Colorado. He returned to private practice in Denver in 1996 until 2001, when George W. Bush nominated him for the Tenth Circuit. He was confirmed in 2003.

Robert Young

Robert P. Young Jr., 67, is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Michigan. Young was born in Des Moines, Iowa. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. Young worked in private practice for over a decade before he was appointed to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 1995. Governor John Engler elevated Young to the Michigan Supreme Court in 1999. During his tenure, The Wall Street Journal praised Young and called the Michigan Supreme Court “what may be the finest court in the nation” and “a leader in attempting to restore a proper balance between the judiciary, the legislature, and the people.” Last year, Young said he was planning to run for the U.S. Senate. He withdrew from the race in January this year.

Don Willett

Donny Ray Willett, 51, is the judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He was born in Talty, Texas. Willet graduated Baylor University and received a law degree from Duke University. Willett started his career in private practice. In 1996, he served as a director of research and special projects in the George W. Bush administration. He was part of Bush’s campaign transition team in 2000-2001. Once in the White House, he crafted the first two of Bush’s executive orders which created the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Prior to serving on the federal bench, Willet was the judge of the Supreme Court of Texas. Trump appointed Willet to the Fifth Circuit last year. He was sworn in on Jan. 2, 2018.

Patrick Wyrick

Patrick Robert Wyrick is the judge of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma. He was born in Denison, Texas, and raised in Atoka, Oklahoma. Wyrick received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Oklahoma. Wyrick worked in private practice before he was hired by then-Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. Pruitt is now the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. In April this year, Trump nominated Wyrick to serve as a U.S. District Judge of the District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. His nomination is still pending.