Several 2024 Republican presidential candidates revealed their criteria for making judicial nominations to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Former President Donald Trump’s decision to release a list of potential Supreme Court nominees in the lead up to the 2016 election was well-received by conservatives and ultimately led to him nominating three new justices during his time in the White House — an achievement Trump has touted on the campaign trail.
Some GOP hopefuls have named individuals like GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and law professor Jonathan Turley as top choices for seats on the Supreme Court, and others pointed to current and former justices they’d look to for guidance in making nominations if president.
“My sole criterion was to select candidates with an unwavering commitment to an originalist understanding of the U.S. Constitution, who also understand the unique threats to liberty in the 21st century (including lurking state action),” Ramaswamy told the DCNF.
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Cruz and Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah were among the bunch, as well as Fifth Circuit Judge James Ho, Ninth Circuit Judge Lawrence VanDyke, Eleventh Circuit Judge Lisa Branch, Third Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman, D.C. Circuit Judge Justin Walker, Sixth Circuit Judge John Bush and former George W. Bush administration Solicitor General Paul Clement.
Ramaswamy’s list had a few crossovers with Trump’s lists in 2016, 2017 and 2020, including Cruz, Lee, Ho, VanDyke, Clement and Hardiman.
Former Texas Rep. Will Hurd plans on nominating those with an originalist interpretation of the Constitution, like Neil Gorsuch, he told the DCNF.
“Individuals like Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Wallace B. Jefferson, the former chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, would be examples of the kinds of people I would evaluate,” said Hurd. “The benefit of having a Republican in office is the ability to nominate Supreme Court justices and that’s why we need to nominate someone who can beat Joe Biden.”
Conservative radio personality Larry Elder revealed a list of names to the DCNF that he’s eyeing for potential Supreme Court picks, including former Trump attorney John Eastman, California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, Fifth Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan, University of California at Berkeley law professor John Yoo and attorney Peter Kirsanow.
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A spokesperson for South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott did not list specific names of potential nominees, but gave insight into the criteria such picks would need to meet.
“As President, Senator Scott would nominate those that have judicial ideologies in line with or similar to Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito,” the spokesperson told the DCNF.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has mentioned the possibility that the next president would need to find replacements for Justices Thomas, Alito and Sonia Sotomayor, as well as Chief Justice John Roberts, and how that could significantly influence the ideology of the Court.
DeSantis’ campaign forwarded recent comments he made to the Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito to the DCNF about looking to Justices like Thomas, Alito and the late Antonin Scalia as “models” for future Supreme Court picks.
“You want somebody that understands the proper role of the Court, that’s going to apply the law and Constitution as it’s written and originally understood, not as they would like it to mean, and no legislating from the bench,” DeSantis said on July 6. “I think what separates the great justices from justices who may not reach that level is do you have the fortitude and the backbone to rule the way the Constitution demands, regardless of how that’s going to be received by elite media, by the law professoriate, by lawyers.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence recently rolled out a list of executive actions he would take on day one as president, where he included nominating criteria for Supreme Court justices, which his campaign pointed the DCNF toward upon request for comment.
“Appoint the most conservative cabinet and judiciary ever assembled,” the plan reads. “As President Pence assembles his cabinet, he will make it his top priority to promote only individuals who oppose abortion and child sexual reassignment.”
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign forwarded recent remarks he made to radio personality Hugh Hewitt when asked whether he will be releasing a list of potential nominees as Trump did in 2016. Christie said he would not, but did suggest that he’d look to Justices Alito and Scalia as examples of whom he’d nominate.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has touched on nominating Supreme Court justices, touting his time as governor tapping judicial appointees, in comments forwarded to the DCNF by the campaign upon request for comment.
“And we don’t have litmus tests,” Burgum told NBC News on July 10. “We try to find the people that are most qualified to do the job, and I think that, again, if there is any kind of litmus test, it’s are they going to follow the Constitution and follow the law, and not legislate from the bench?”
The RealClearPolitics (RCP) average for a 2024 national Republican primary, based on polls conducted between Aug. 24 and Sept. 4, indicates Trump is leading the crowded field with 53.6%, followed by DeSantis with 14.9%, Ramaswamy with 6.8%, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley with 6.1% and Pence with 4.9%. All other GOP hopefuls garnered less than 3% support.
Democrats have sought to make the Supreme Court an issue heading into 2024, attempting to push through legislation that would impose an ethics code on the justices and highlighting the high court’s recent decisions to strike down affirmative action and end Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. A coalition of left-wing activist organizations launched an ad campaign in June to make the Supreme Court — which they characterize as “captured as right-wing extremists” — a major 2024 election issue.
In 2020, President Joe Biden said he would nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court but declined to release a list of potential nominees because he felt “putting a judge’s name on a list like that could influence that person’s decision making as a judge, and that would be wrong,” according to CNN. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, Biden’s nominee, was confirmed to the Supreme Court in April 2022.
Trump, Haley and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
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