On Wednesday, President Trump added 20 individuals to his list of potential justices for a future Supreme Court vacancy. Like many on his current list, the new names are by and large stellar originalists who will look to the Constitution to decide cases, not inject their personal policy preferences into law.
The issue of nominations is an important one. Voters rightly saw a distinction between what types of judges and justices they would get from Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump in 2016, and there is just as much (if not more) of a contrast today.
Throughout his first term, President Trump's overall record on judicial nominations has been stellar. He has consistently nominated, and with the Senate's help confirmed, solid originalist judges and justices -- over 200 at this point. Yet Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh have wavered (most notably with Gorsuch's poorly-decided Bostock v. Clayton County opinion, one which will have grave religious freedom implications). With more and more of Chief Justice Roberts' votes falling as duds in recent cases (including a key abortion case), there is some concern among social conservatives about weakness in the judiciary. There's likely a good reason that in his remarks announcing the list, President Trump noted he wanted "jurists in the mold of Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito" (who has impeccable records), and neglected to mention other former -- or current -- justices.
This new list comes just in time and will certainly give voters a shot in the arm on a key campaign issue as we approach November.
Several names stand out in the new list. Kyle Duncan currently sits on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and while in private practice, represented Hobby Lobby in its religious freedom case before the Court. Noel Francisco has served as Solicitor General under President Trump, defending the administration's positions in many cases (including religious freedom and abortion cases) before the Supreme Court. Allison Rushing Jones, who now sits on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, was attacked during her confirmation hearing for her religious beliefs.
We've observed it before, but as the president reminded us again in his remarks announcing this list: If the Democrats take office, "[r]adical justices will... taxpayers to fund extreme late-term abortion." They will "remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance." And "many of our most treasured freedoms, including religious liberty... have been saved by a single vote on the United States Supreme Court. Our cherished rights are at risk, including the right to life..."
He's right. The courts were important in the 2016 election, and they are just as or more important this November.