Having zeroed in on 21 potential candidates to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court and announced them during the election race, Donald Trump is narrowing his search, writes Politico.
The site reported this morning that the president-elect has closed in eight top contenders, including two women and Raymond Gruender, who wrote an opinion that asserted the state is allowed to force doctors to tell women who seek abortions that they risk committing suicide if they go decide to have the procedure. All of the finalists are white. Anyway, Diane Sykes and Joan Larsen are under serious consideration. So, what do we know about these candidates?
Sykes has been a frontrunner for this job since at least February 2016, when Trump said she and William Pryor Jr. would “best represent the conservative values we need to protect.” And indeed, their values are conservative.
Sykes, 59, is a former justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and currently serves on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. She ruled in favor of companies that don’t want to cover the costs of contraception, despite the stipulation in the Affordable Care Act that they do. She notably argued in Christian Legal Society v. Walker that student organizations that espouse anti-gay policies cannot be cut off from government subsidies for discrimination.
As Think Progress observes, the fact that Sykes doesn’t seem to take issue with continuing government subsidies to an organization that engages in discriminatory practices suggests that it would be no tremendous stretch for her to conclude that companies can fire LGBT employees or refuse to serve LGBT customers.
Sykes sided with Republicans in August 2016 on a Wisconsin voter ID law that required almost all citizens have approved photo identification in order to vote. While conservatives insist that such restrictions are meant to prevent voter fraud, the Center for American Progress found that “the law prevented several identified people, as well as an untold number of other registered citizens, from casting their ballots.”
Sykes, who is the oldest of Trump’s potential nominees, has been in the running for a Supreme Court post before. She was reportedly one of the people whom George W. Bush wanted to nominate had a seat opened up toward the end of his second term.
Laren, 48, is the youngest of any of Trump’s potential choices, which Politico notes would offer “conservatives the possibility of installing a justice who could serve for three decades.”
[Camera pans to me, typing this]
But her positions are harder to stake out than those of her fellow contenders. Although she is a current justice on the Michigan Supreme Court, she has virtually no judicial record. She was only appointed to the state Supreme Court in September 2015. Until then, she was a law professor at the University of Michigan.
She did clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia, whose seat she would be filling if she’s nominated and confirmed. Following his death in February, she wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in which she characterized her impression of Scalia’s approach to justice: “Justice Scalia believed in one simple principle: That law came to the court as an is not an ought. Statutes, cases and the Constitution were to be read for what they said, not for what the judges wished they would say.”
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