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By Sarah May on
 September 11, 2023

Republican presidential hopefuls tout criteria for prospective SCOTUS nominees

Having appointed a pivotal trio of justices while in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump demonstrated the critical role the commander in chief can play in shaping the U.S. Supreme Court for decades, and as such, GOP primary hopefuls are now articulating the criteria they would use to make nominations if elected, as the Daily Caller reports.

Several members of the Republican field engaged with the Daily Caller News Foundation recently to state the qualities they feel would make for a top high court pick, with some going so far as to name names.

Tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy is among the current crop of candidates who has been willing to get specific about his plans for the Supreme Court, suggesting that constitutional originalists would be at the top of his list.

Ramaswamy did not pull any punches on the topic, stating, “My sole criterion was to select candidate with an unwavering commitment to an originalist understanding of the U.S. Constitution,” with prospects such as Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), former Solicitor General Paul Clement, and multiple federal judges making the cut.

Though he does not currently rank among those likely to mount a real challenge to the GOP primary frontrunner – namely, Trump – conservative radio host Larry Elder also stepped up to provide the names of some of his preferred candidates for the high court.

Fifth Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan, former Trump attorney John Eastman, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, were among Elder's stated favorites.

Several other current contenders for the GOP nomination, when asked about their Supreme Court priorities, did offer a list of individual names, but rather articulated the sorts of qualities and backgrounds they believe would make for an ideal nominee.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has declined to produce the same type of prospect list Trump did during his 2016 campaign, but he did make clear that current Justice Samuel Alito and the late Justice Antonin Scalia were just the sort of jurists he would seek.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who still trails Trump by a significant margin in most polls, suggested that the next person to occupy the White House may be in a position to fill seats vacated by Alito as well as Justices Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor, with Chief Justice John Roberts another potential departure.

Praising Alito, Thomas, and Scalia as the gold standard, DeSantis stated, “You want somebody that understands the proper role of the Court, that's going to apply the law and Constitution as it's written and originally understood, not as they would like it to mean, and no legislating from the bench.”

The importance of the candidates' philosophies on selecting judicial nominees – particularly for the Supreme Court – cannot be overstated, as Trump's time in office illustrates.

Recent decisions overturning Roe v. Wade, nullifying President Joe Biden's student loan giveaway, and a series of other rulings that were anathema to the left were possible almost entirely due to the conservative majority put in place by Trump, as The Hill explained earlier this summer.

Those very same decisions are, as the outlet asserts, “a reminder to many conservatives that the bargain some Trump skeptics made during his 2016 campaign paid off. Back then, many conservatives who were unenthusiastic about Trump's colorful personal life and penchant for crudeness backed him anyway, in part because he held out the promise of delivering lasting change through the judiciary.”

As one party insider observed, “Republican voters have long memories and know all too well that it's not an automatic given to get strong conservative justices just because you have a GOP president,” and it will not necessarily be easy for any of Trump's current competitors to top his reputation for reliability in this realm.

Written By:
Sarah May

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