Leading Candidates to Fill Supreme Court Vacancy


SEPTEMBER 19, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Friday created a Supreme Court vacancy that President Trump has vowed to fill “without delay.” He has issued four lists of potential nominees, the most recent one last week. Here is a look at some of the leading candidates on those lists.

Amy Coney Barrett

Judge Barrett, a member of the Federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, is the likely front-runner for the job as Republicans see advantages in replacing Justice Ginsburg with a woman. A former law professor at Notre Dame, Judge Barrett has a rock-star reputation in conservative circles. Her devout Catholicism prompted tough questioning by Democrats at her confirmation hearing in 2017. Her interview with Mr. Trump in 2018 for a seat on the Supreme Court was said to have not gone well.

Amul Thapar

A member of the Federal Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the first federal judge of South Asian descent, Judge Thapar was also the first appeals court candidate nominated by Mr. Trump after he picked Justice Neil M. Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. Judge Thapar is a Kentuckian and a personal favorite of Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader who carries a lot of sway in this process. Judge Thapar is considered a strong contender after Judge Barrett.

Raymond Kethledge

A member of the Federal Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit since 2008, Judge Kethledge is considered a strong adherent of a strict interpretation of the Constitution, but he is not considered the sort of flashy choice Mr. Trump likes to see in high-profile judicial nominations. Judge Kethledge was put on the court by President George W. Bush after political infighting with Michigan Democrats caused another candidate to be filibustered. He was considered seriously for the vacancy prompted by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February 2016.

James Ho

Judge Ho sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and is a former clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas. Born in Taiwan, he is a new addition to Mr. Trump’s list of candidates for the Supreme Court. He also formerly served as a counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will consider any nomination, and worked in the Justice Department on civil rights.

Thomas M. Hardiman

Judge Hardiman, who sits on the Federal Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia, was the first member of his family to graduate from college, and he helped pay for his education by driving a taxi. His compelling life story, coupled with a winning personality, has appealed to Mr. Trump, as has his solid record of conservative rulings. Judge Hardiman served with Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, the president’s sister, on the appeals court, and Judge Barry recommended Judge Hardiman to her brother as a good choice for the vacancy created by the death of Justice Scalia.

William H. Pryor Jr.

Judge Pryor, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, is a committed conservative who this month wrote a majority opinion ruling that people with felony criminal records in Florida were ineligible to vote unless they paid back all of their outstanding court fines and fees. At his 2003 confirmation hearing, he stood by an earlier statement that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion, was “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.”

Courtesy/Source: NY Times