Monday, November 28, 2016
Courts - "SCOTUS vacancy dominates talk at national lawyers convention"
Long, fascinating story this weekend by Robert Barnes of the Washington Post on the recent Federalist Society’s national lawyers convention. A few quotes:
“We could have been here in mourning, in sackcloths and ashes, wondering what might become of the republic,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) told a packed ballroom. Instead, the attendees found themselves with a “historic opportunity” and, as he noted, circulated through the Mayflower Hotel with “résumés in your pockets.”
“This gathering may well be the single largest collection of individuals who are likely to serve in the new administration,” continued Cruz, a Federalist Society favorite. “If you look down the aisle at your friends and neighbors and colleagues, I have great confidence that we are collectively looking at scores of federal judges,” as well as Justice Department lawyers and future officials of every federal agency.
But it was the opening on the Supreme Court that dominated the event. * * *
Cruz is not on the list of 21 people from which Trump has said — repeatedly — he will make his choice. “Only from that list I’m going to pick, only,” Trump said recently. “We’re not going outside that list.” * * *
Instead, the list is composed of federal judges and state supreme court justices from around the country. A solid number of them clerked for Scalia or another of the Supreme Court’s current conservatives, raising the possibility that a former clerk would for the first time sit with the justice for whom he or she once worked.
Who is on the shortlist? Who knows. But two names must be elevated, if for no other reason than Trump himself has mentioned them.
“We could have a Diane Sykes, or you could have a Bill Pryor, we have some fantastic people,” Trump said shortly after Scalia died, naming the kinds of judges a Republican president could nominate. * * *
Sykes is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and a former justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. She, too, is a Federalist Society favorite, chosen a couple of years ago to interview Thomas at the group’s gala dinner.
Sykes would bring something to the court missing since the departure of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: She has run for elected office. And she has a solidly conservative voting record, with a requisite defense of gun rights.
One drawback is that she would be 59 at the time of her nomination, and conservatives generally like their nominees to be younger. On the other hand, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was 60 when confirmed, and she has served 23 years and counting.