Trump’s List of Supreme Court Nominees Down to 12 Women

September 20, 2020 Updated: September 22, 2020

News Analysis

President Donald Trump pared his sizable list of possible Supreme Court nominees on the weekend by indicating he intends in the coming week to name a woman to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died at 87 on Sept. 18.

There are now 12 women on the list, topped by two Trump lower court nominees, the frequently mentioned Amy Coney Barrett, a judge on the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Barbara Lagoa, a judge on the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit.

The prospect of Trump replacing the left-leaning Ginsburg with a conservative justice has generated apoplexy on the activist left, with some public figures angrily calling for pushback against the Trump administration. They claim it was unfair for Senate Republicans to block then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland after conservative Justice Antonin Scalia unexpectedly died in 2016.

Democrats don’t want a new high court nomination to move forward until after the next presidential inauguration, claiming the blocking of Garland set a precedent of sorts, but after the harsh way Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a Trump nominee, was treated by Democrats during the confirmation process, Republicans don’t appear to be in a forgiving mood. Republicans hold a 53–47 majority in the U.S. Senate.

Ginsburg, who served for 27 years on the court and became a figure in popular culture, had reportedly been so devoted to her judicial duties that she participated in the consideration of cases before the court during her repeated stays in the hospital.

Trump vowed Sept. 19 to nominate a woman to replace Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, a move that, in theory, would have six ideological conservatives on the nine-member court, instead of the current five.

“I will be putting forth a nominee next week. It will be a woman,” Trump said in North Carolina. “I think it should be a woman because I actually like women much more than men.”

“It will be a woman—a very talented, very brilliant woman,” Trump said. “We haven’t chosen yet, but we have numerous women on the list.”

Trump said it’s a president’s constitutional right to name a new justice and that he planned to do so, even though the Nov. 3 presidential election, in which he is seeking a second term, is just weeks away.

“We have plenty of time. You’re talking about January 20,” Trump said, referencing the date of the next inauguration.

Barrett, a Roman Catholic and mother of seven, has the backing of many conservative activists, in part for her perceived hostility to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal in all 50 states. The legal scholar also came under fire from the left for resurrecting a lawsuit from a male Purdue University student who faced what critics called a “kangaroo court” on campus that convicted him of sexual improprieties, The Epoch Times previously reported.

The accusations warranted “relatively formal procedures,” yet “Purdue’s process fell short of what even a high school must provide to a student facing a days-long suspension,” Barrett noted in the opinion she wrote in Doe v. Purdue University in June 2019.

Her 2017 confirmation battle for the seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals generated headlines while it won her conservative supporters. The Senate confirmed her 55–43.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and others attacked her perceived religiosity.

“The dogma lives loudly within you,” the senator said, a comment that prompted accusations of religious bigotry from Republican lawmakers.

Lagoa, now in her first year on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, was previously a judge on the Florida Supreme Court and on an intermediate appeals court. She was confirmed to the circuit court by the Senate on an 80–15 vote.

Of Cuban ancestry, she worked pro bono as a lawyer for the family of Elian Gonzalez, the young Cuban boy who escaped to freedom in the United States, only to eventually be returned to the communist Caribbean state.

When nominating her to serve on the Florida Supreme Court, Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican said, “She has been the essence of what a judge should be.”

Judge Bridget Bade of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is another possibility. The Trump nominee was confirmed for her post by a vote of 78–21. Bade was a trial lawyer in the Environmental Torts Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Judge Martha Pacold of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois was confirmed by the Senate 87–3. She was deputy general counsel at the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 2017 to 2019.

Judge Sarah Pitlyk of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri was confirmed 49–44. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the only Republican to vote against her nomination.

“I have concluded that she does not have sufficient experience to receive a federal district court appointment,” Collins said of Pitlyk, who worked as a special counsel at the conservative Thomas More Society.

Confirmed 53–44 by the Senate, Allison Jones Rushing is a judge on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. She once interned at the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom.

Kate Todd isn’t a judge, but served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She is currently deputy assistant to the president and deputy counsel to the president.

Allison Eid is a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. She was confirmed 56–41. Supporters praise her for her support for school choice reform and limited government.

Britt Grant, a judge on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, was confirmed 52–46. The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights opposed her nomination at the time  because as “Solicitor General of Georgia, her work sought to diminish civil and human rights in America.” The group claimed she was hostile to voting rights and LGBT equality.

Joan Larsen, a judge on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, was confirmed 60–38. Involved in Republican politics at one point, she donated to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012.

Margaret Ryan, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces whose term expires next year, was nominated to that post by former President George W. Bush.

Diane Sykes, a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, also was nominated by Bush. She’s a former journalist.