Who will President Trump nominate to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

President adds 20 names to list of Supreme Court candidates

In early September, President Donald Trump announced he had added 20 names to a list of Supreme Court candidates he’s pledged to choose from if he has future vacancies to fill.

On Friday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, and Trump — engaged in a bitter reelection battle against Democratic White House nominee Joe Biden — has gotten another chance to cement a conservative legacy on the highest court in the land.

ExploreFull AJC coverage of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death

After a campaign rally Friday night in Minnesota, Trump called Ginsburg “an amazing woman who led an amazing life.”

Trump’s list of possible nominees includes a trio of conservative Republican senators: Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri — all rumored potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates — as well as Christopher Landau, the current ambassador to Mexico, and Noel Francisco, who argued 17 cases as the Trump administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer.

“Every one of these individuals will ensure equal justice, equal treatment and equal rights for citizens of every race, color, religion and creed," Trump said as he made his announcement at the White House, according to The Associated Press.

ExploreHow will Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement be chosen?

The release, less than two months before the election, was aimed at repeating the strategy Trump employed during his 2016 campaign, when he released a similar list of could-be judges in a bid to win over conservative and evangelical voters who had doubts about his conservative bonafides.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday night that Trump’s nominee — whoever it may be — would receive a Senate floor vote.

The list also includes a number of people who have worked for Trump’s administration, including Gregory Katsas, whom Trump nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Before that, Katsas served as a legal adviser on some of the president’s most contentious policies, including his executive orders restricting travel for citizens of predominantly Muslim countries and his decision to end a program protecting some young immigrants from deportation.

ExplorePowerful quotes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Francisco, the former solicitor general of the United States, also defended Trump’s travel ban, his unsuccessful push to add a citizenship question to the U.S. census and the decision to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects hundreds of thousands of young people from deportation. He also argued that a landmark civil rights law didn’t protect gay, lesbian and transgender people from employment discrimination, a position the court ruled against 6-3 earlier this year.

Also on the list is Daniel Cameron, the Kentucky attorney general who is currently deciding whether to criminally charge three Louisville police officers in the March shooting death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician who was killed when officers entered her apartment with a no-knock warrant during a drug investigation.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who has been overseeing the case of Breonna Taylor, the Black woman who was killed during a police raid, spoke at RNC.

In response, Cotton tweeted that he was “honored” Trump had asked him to consider the role and “will always heed the call of service to our nation."

“It’s time for Roe v. Wade to go,” he added, referring to the court’s landmark 1973 abortion rights decision. Hawley, however, said he had already made clear to the president and his staff on multiple occasions that he had “no interest" in the role.

Ginsburg, 87, died Friday night from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. Three other members of the court are in their 70s and 80s: Stephen Breyer, 82; Clarence Thomas, 72; and Samuel Alito, 70.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Craig Fritz, File)
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Craig Fritz, File)

Credit: AP Photo/Craig Fritz

Credit: AP Photo/Craig Fritz

Trump has already remade the federal bench for a generation, with the Republican Senate confirming more than 200 of his judicial nominees. And any vacancy in the highest court would give November’s winner — be it Trump or Biden — the ability to shape its future for decades to come.

Trump released two lists with a total of 21 names of potential Supreme Court nominees during his previous presidential campaign and added another five names in 2017 after becoming president. Trump’s two nominees to the court, Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, were both drawn from the list.

Biden has promised to nominate a Black woman to the high court if given the chance. Biden, too, has said he’s working on a list of potential nominees, but the campaign has given no indication that it will release names before the election.

Democratic White House nominee Joe Biden closed out the carefully scripted, pre-taped and virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention on Thursday.

While all presidents tend to look for the same characteristics in potential Supreme Court picks, including stellar legal credentials, nearly half of those recently named by Trump are non-judges. Of the 11 judges on the list, 10 were nominated by Trump to their current posts. Women represent less than one-third.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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