Rejecting calls from Republicans to leave the job to his successor, President Obama says he plans to nominate a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia “in due time” following the conservative firebrand’s sudden death on Saturday. So who does the president plan to nominate?
According to Yahoo News Chief Political Correspondent Olivier Knox, Obama’s shortlist includes Sri Srinivasan, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge for the District of Columbia circuit; Merrick Garland, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit; Attorney General Loretta Lynch; Neal Katyal, a Georgetown law professor who spent one year as Obama’s acting solicitor general; Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson; Solicitor General Don Verrilli, and former Attorney General Eric Holder.
Obama has told friends that he views nominating two women — Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — to the court as a key part of his legacy. The president could now try to name a third: Lynch or Patricia Ann Millett, who like Srinivasan is a U.S. Court of Appeals judge for the District of Columbia circuit.
But whomever Obama decides to nominate to fill the newly vacant Supreme Court seat faces a slim chance of being confirmed, particularly in an election year.
During the GOP debate in South Carolina on Saturday night, all six Republican presidential candidates urged the Senate to block Obama’s pick.
“The Senate needs to stand strong and say, ‘We’re not going to give up the Supreme Court for a generation by allowing Barack Obama to make one more liberal appointee,’” Sen. Ted Cruz said.
On Sunday, Cruz said he would “absolutely” filibuster any Obama appointee.
“This should be a decision for the people,” the Texas senator said on “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “Let the election decide. If the Democrats want to replace [Scalia], they need to win the election. But I don’t think the American people want a court that will strip our religious liberties. I don’t think the American people want a court that will mandate unlimited abortions on demand, partial-birth abortion with taxpayer funding and no parental notification, and I don’t think the American people want a court that will write the Second Amendment out of the Constitution.”
At the debate, Donald Trump admitted that if he were in Obama’s position, he would “certainly want to try and nominate a justice.” The Republican frontrunner even offered two possible choices: Diane Sykes, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; and Bill Pryor, a judge U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and Alabama’s former attorney general. Both Sykes and Pryor were nominated to appeals courts by President George W. Bush.
Back in August, Trump said that his sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, a senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, would be a “phenomenal” Supreme Court justice, but added that he would have to rule her out for “now, at least.”
Cruz has not forgotten.
“You know, the one person he has suggested that would make a good justice is his sister, who is a court of appeals judge appointed by Bill Clinton,” he said on ABC. “She is a hard-core, pro-abortion liberal judge. And he said she would make a terrific justice.”
Cruz added: “It gives you an example of the type of people he would be looking to. Donald Trump is not a conservative.”