Donald Trump - Photo (cc) 2015 by Gage Skidmore
Donald Trump – Photo (cc) 2015 by Gage Skidmore

President Donald Trump’s short list for potential nominees came out in early January, and he has since promised to pick one within two weeks of his inauguration on Friday, Jan. 20. Among this list are some of the most conservative judges sitting on the federal circuit courts.

He is looking for a replacement for Antonin Scalia, the strict originalist justice who died in 2016. Trump will now look for someone to replace Scalia, an important part of the conservative bloc on the Court. The Federalist Society, a conservative legal group, which Scalia served as a faculty adviser for at U-Chicago, is said to be helping Trump with his pick to the Court. Eight people have been identified as candidates for the job, but we will focus on the most likely: Judge William Pryor, Judge Diane Sykes and Judge Raymond Kethledge.

William Pryor, 54, sits as an appellate judge in the 11th Circuit, and has been criticized for his stances on sodomy and Roe v. Wade. According to Politico, he called the case the “worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.” He was appointed to the 11th Circuit in 2004 by President George W. Bush after having been blocked by Democrats for nearly a year. In an op-ed in 1997, he stated that many issues the courts had decided on, including homosexual rights, abortion and school prayer, all hotly contested debates that typically fall along political lines, belong to be decided by legislative bodies.

Diane Sykes, 59, is an appellate judge in the Seventh Circuit and was a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice before Bush moved her up to the federal circuit in 2004. She is known for a decision in Ezell v. Chicago, when the Seventh Circuit struck many gun range regulations after Chicago tried their best to rewrite gun-control regulation after the federal courts struck them down in 2011.

Raymond Kethledge, 50, is an appellate judge in the 6th circuit, known for his rulings that took a stab at Obama-era positions in both environmental and employment discrimination cases, according to Politico.  Kethledge was appointed to the circuit in 2008 by Bush, and served as counsel to Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Michigan, on the Judiciary Committee as well as clerking for Justice Anthony Kennedy.


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