President Trump has a short list of Supreme Court candidates hand-picked by the ultraconservative Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society. He has pledged to fill Supreme Court vacancies with people from this extreme and ideological list of candidates. AFJ opposes the individuals on this list based on their selection by partisan right-wing interest groups, and Trump’s own statements making it clear that no individual would be on the list unless he or she had a commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade and taking healthcare away from millions of Americans.


Bridget Bade

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Trump nominated Bridget Bade to the Ninth Circuit in 2018. Prior to her confirmation, Bade served as a magistrate judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. Her record as a magistrate judge consisted largely of issuing orders, reports, and recommendations. The vast majority of the reports and recommendations deal with procedural issues stemming from cases before district court judges. At the time of her nomination, AFJ wrote, “It is notable for someone to be elevated directly from a magistrate judge position to a circuit court seat.” Since her appointment to the Ninth Circuit, she has joined other Trump judges to fight civil rights and protections for workers and immigrants. She would have upheld a district court ruling that a low-income Walmart employee should pay the company’s legal expenses arising from his age discrimination lawsuit. Bade also dissented from a decision requiring the Bureau of Immigration Appeals to reconsider a Vietnamese asylum-seeker’s testimony about her alleged abuse and sexual assault.

Read more on Bade’s background.

Amy Coney Barrett

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Amy Coney Barrett fought to undermine health care for millions in her attack on the Affordable Care Act. She also fought efforts to ensure that all women have access to contraceptives. Barrett has been critical of Roe v. Wade, stating that the framework of Roe essentially permitted abortion on demand. As a judge, Barrett sided against an African American worker who had been transferred to another store because of a company’s policy of segregating their employees, finding that the company’s “separate-but-equal arrangement is permissible.”

Read more on Barrett’s background.

Keith Blackwell

Supreme Court of Georgia

Keith Blackwell was appointed by Republican Governor Nathan Deal to the Georgia Supreme Court in 2012. He subsequently won election to a full term on the court in 2014. Blackwell received his B.A. and J.D. from the University of Georgia. Immediately after law school, he clerked for Judge J.L. Edmondson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Blackwell then practiced law at Alston & Bird LLP before serving as an Assistant District Attorney in Cobb County. He returned to private practice at Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs LLP before being appointed to the Georgia Court of Appeals by Republican Governor Sonny Perdue in 2010. He is a member of the Federalist Society’s Board of Advisors for the Atlanta Chapter and previously served as chapter president.

Daniel Cameron

Attorney General of Kentucky

Daniel Cameron was appointed Attorney General of Kentucky by Governor Andy Beshear and subsequently won election to a full term in 2019. Cameron, just 34 when put on Trump’s shortlist, received his B.S. and J.D. – only in 2011 – from the University of Louisville. Immediately after law school, he clerked for Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove in the Eastern District of Kentucky for two years. Cameron then served as Senator Mitch McConnell’s legal counsel before joining Frost Brown Todd as a senior associate.

Cameron believes courts should invalidate the Affordable Care Act, resulting in millions losing their health insurance. As Attorney General of Kentucky, Cameron called for halting abortions across the state during the Coronavirus pandemic, arguing that it is an “elective” medical procedure that should fall under the statewide ban for the duration of the public health emergency. He challenged health and safety measures, like masks mandates, implemented by the state’s governor. Further, as Attorney General, Cameron is responsible for deciding whether or not to bring charges against the officers who killed Breonna Taylor, which he has so far failed to do despite a sustained international outcry.

Charles Canady

Supreme Court of Florida

Charles Canady was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court by Governor Charlie Crist in 2008. He earned his B.A. from Haverford College and his J.D. from Yale University. Following his graduation from law school, Canady entered private practice at the law firm Holland & Knight, where he worked from 1979 until 1982 before moving onto the firm Lane, Trohn, et al from 1983-1992. Canady also entered politics during this period and served in the Florida House of Representatives as a Republican from 1984-1990. He lost his bid for U.S. Congress in 1990 but won a seat in 1992.

In 1995, he authored a bill severely limiting a woman’s right to abortion care. The bill passed both houses of Congress, but was vetoed by President Clinton. While in Congress, Canady co-managed the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton. Canady also voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (banning marriage equality for federal law purposes). In addition, he opposed President Clinton’s attempt to expand healthcare coverage, supported numerous financial deregulation bills, and consistently voted against strengthening gun safety measures.

Upon his departure from Congress, Canady took a job as Governor Jeb Bush’s general counsel. In 2002, Bush appointed him to Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals, and six years later Governor Charlie Crist elevated him to the Florida Supreme Court. In a highly publicized recent case, Canady voted to uphold the death sentence of Timothy Hurst. When the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, even Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Scalia, and Justice Thomas found that imposing the death penalty on Hurst was unconstitutional because of Florida’s arcane sentencing laws.

Paul Clement

Former U.S. Solicitor General

Paul Clement has served in several Republican administrations, including as the Acting United States Attorney General and Solicitor General under George W. Bush. After graduating with a J.D. from Harvard University, Clement clerked under Judge Lawrence Silberman on the D.C. Court of Appeals and for Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. After his clerkships, he worked as an associate at Kirkland & Ellis and later as a partner at King & Spalding.

As a litigator, Clement has repeatedly advanced conservative causes. He defended the Bush Administration’s conduct in the War on Terror, the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, and the Defense of Marriage Act. He led the challenge on behalf of 26 states to overturn the Affordable Care Act, successfully arguing to strike down portion of the law relating to Medicaid Expansion, which would have insured millions of Americans. Further, Clement defended the practice of partisan gerrymandering in the 2018 Rucho v. Common Cause case before the Supreme Court.

Steven Colloton

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Steve Colloton is a narrow-minded elitist who will roll back the clock on rulings that protect historically disadvantaged groups. He began his career clerking for Judge Laurence Silberman of the D.C. Circuit and Justice William Rehnquist. He served in the Office of Legal Counsel under the George H. W. Bush administration and as an associate independent counsel assisting Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater investigation. He also served as an assistant U.S. attorney before his nomination to the Eighth Circuit by President George W. Bush.

Colloton puts the rights of corporations, the wealthy and powerful over all people. Colloton would have prevented a jury from hearing a female employee’s claim that her firing was retaliation for her complaints about sexual harassment. Judge Colloton would make it harder for women to obtain needed healthcare, including contraception. He signed onto a decision ruling that the Affordable Care Act’s birth control accommodation for religious organizations—which requires merely that they sign a form stating they do not want to provide birth control coverage to their employees or students—violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a view that would have left women without critical birth control coverage. Eight other circuit courts disagreed before the Supreme Court remanded the issue back to the lower courts in Zubik v. Burwell.

Judge Colloton has supported imposing misleading and burdensome requirements on women seeking abortion care. He joined an opinion reinstating a South Dakota biased counseling law which required physicians providing abortion services to give patients a “suicide advisory” informing them that choosing to undergo an abortion increased their risks of suicide or suicidal ideation.

Judge Colloton has taken a hostile and unreasonable position on issues surrounding the death penalty. He authored an opinion that prohibited prisoners from learning the physician, pharmacist, and laboratory involved in carrying out Missouri’s execution protocol. Colloton wrote that the prisoners never had a valid Eighth-Amendment claim since they had not proposed a “readily available” and “more humane alternative method of execution.” As the dissent noted, Judge Colloton’s opinion “places an absurd burden on death row inmates” by announcing a new pleading standard in which inmates must present an alternative method for their own executions.

Tom Cotton

U.S. Senator, Arkansas

Tom Cotton is currently the junior U.S. Senator from Arkansas. Cotton received his B.A. and J.D. from Harvard University, later clerking for Judge Jerry Edwin Smith on the Fifth Circuit and working as an associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Cotton won his Senate race in 2013 and has since become one of the most extreme members of the Republican caucus. He is a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, calling it “offensive to a free society and a free people.” He has voted to strip funding from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, to ban all abortions after 20 weeks, and against the Violence Against Women Act. He categorically opposes movements to reform the criminal justice system, stating, “If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem,” and publicly advocated for the deployment of federal troops to counter mass protests in cities across the United States.

Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator, Texas

Ted Cruz is currently the junior U.S. Senator from Texas. Cruz received his B.A. from Princeton University and J.D. from Harvard University. After law school, he served as a law clerk to Judge J. Michael Luttig on the Fourth Circuit and Chief Justice William Rehnquist on the Supreme Court. In private practice, Cruz worked on litigation in support of the National Rifle Association and helped prepare testimony for the Clinton impeachment. He later joined the George W. Bush presidential campaign as a domestic policy advisor and assisted the Bush legal team during the 2000 Florida recounts leading up to Bush v. Gore. He worked in the Bush Justice Department until being appointed Texas Solicitor General by Texas’ Republican governor.

Since winning his Senate seat in 2012, Cruz has been one of the ACA’s harshest critics, sponsoring a bill to repeal it in its entirety. He opposes abortion in almost all instances and referred to the Supreme Court case legalizing same-sex marriage as “among the darkest hours of our nation.”

Kyle Duncan

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Kyle Duncan has spent his career fighting against reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality, defending discriminatory voting laws, and dismantling protections for immigrants. As a private attorney, he submitted briefs opposing marriage equality, access to abortion and contraception, and a path to citizenship for the children of immigrants. Since being appointed to the Fifth Circuit by Trump, Duncan has continued his efforts to undermine these and other critical rights and protections. For example, as a judge, he has expressed extreme hostility towards LGBTQ people, including by refusing to correct the record so that a plaintiff’s name on her judgement of conviction reflected her name and gender following her transition. He was also the deciding vote to block a district court from allowing discovery of critical information related to an employer’s violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The lawsuit was brought after the employer failed to classify a number of employees as eligible for overtime pay as required by the FLSA.

Read more on Duncan’s background.

Allison Eid

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Allison Eid’s record reveals a narrow-minded elitist who will protect the wealthy and powerful over all. Both in academia and on the Colorado Supreme Court, she sided with Republicans in trying to prevent the creation of more competitive congressional districts and in working to undermine campaign finance laws. Her hostility to public education is notable; she has supported Republican efforts allowing public dollars to finance religious schools, attacks on increases in funding for public schools, and efforts to undermine collective bargaining rights of teachers. She would have made it more difficult for unions to engage in the democratic process, and she supported corporations’ long-term efforts to make it more difficult for consumers to hold businesses accountable. She would have allowed a private company to use eminent domain to build a petroleum pipeline. And, like her former boss, Justice Clarence Thomas, Eid repeatedly turns a blind eye to police misconduct, narrowing critical constitutional protections for those accused of committing crimes. Each of these causes has been championed by the far right.

Read more on Eid’s background.

Steven Engel

U.S. Assistant Attorney General

Stephen Engel currently works in the Trump Administration’s Office of Legal Counsel. Engel received his B.A. from Harvard University and J.D. from Yale University, after which he clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski on the Ninth Circuit and Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. He then practiced law at Kirkland & Ellis before joining the Bush Administration’s Office of Legal Counsel, where he worked on the “Torture Memos.”

As head of the Trump OLC, Engel has used his authority to justify some of the president’s controversial actions. Engel issued OLC opinions supporting the Justice Department’s decision not to release Trump’s tax returns, its decision to not forward the Trump-Ukraine scandal whistleblower complaint to Congress, and the argument that White House advisors have “absolute immunity” from being subpoenaed to testify in the Trump impeachment inquiry.

Noel Francisco

Former U.S. Solicitor General

Noel Francisco was the Trump Administration’s Solicitor General from 2017-2020. Francisco received his B.A. and J.D. from the University of Chicago. He served as a law clerk for Judge J. Michael Luttig on the Fourth Circuit and Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Later, in private practice, Francisco served on the Bush legal team during the 2000 Florida recount.

As Solicitor General, Francisco was a staunch defender of President Trump. He led the Trump Administration’s effort to have the Affordable Care Act struck down by the courts, as well as the DACA program. He also defended the Trump Administration’s draconian immigration actions, including the Muslim ban. Francisco also sought to prevent Congress from accessing a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 election, defended the Justice Department’s decision to withdraw its case against Michael Flynn, even after Flynn had plead guilty, and fought against the Manhattan DA’s subpoena for Trump’s tax returns.

Britt Grant

Supreme Court of Georgia

Like a vast majority of Trump’s nominees, Grant is a member of the Federalist Society, where she serves on the Atlanta Chapter Executive Board. While Grant has just over one year of judicial experience on the Georgia Supreme Court, her record working at the Office of the Attorney General, including as Solicitor General of Georgia, shows evidence of a narrow-minded, elitist approach to cases that raises serious concerns about undermining critical rights and legal protections.

Read more on Grant’s background.

Raymond Gruender

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Judge Gruender’s record indicates that he does not respect the values of equality and justice for all. Raymond Gruender was appointed to the Eighth Circuit by President George W. Bush in 2004. Prior to joining the Eighth Circuit, Gruender worked in private practice, was a state campaign director for Bob Dole’s presidential campaign, and served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri.

Judge Gruender’s record shows hostility to women’s right to access reproductive care. The Eighth Circuit, in an opinion by Gruender, overturned a district court decision that had enjoined an Arkansas statute that required abortion providers to contract with a physician who has hospital-admitting privileges. The law is similar to a Texas law which was struck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

Gruender also held that an employer’s denial of contraception coverage did not violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, even though the trial court determined the law was unlawful sex discrimination. He reasoned that “the PDA does not require coverage of contraception because contraception is not ‘related to’ pregnancy for PDA purposes and is gender-neutral.”

Judge Gruender dissented from the opinion of a panel of the Eighth Circuit that affirmed the district court’s conclusion that federal desegregation monitoring should remain in effect in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Thomas Hardiman

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Judge Thomas Hardiman has demonstrated that he will roll back the clock on rulings that protect historically disadvantaged groups. His nomination would threaten women’s reproductive rights and healthcare for millions. Hardiman’s record shows that he sides against workers and protects the wealthy and powerful over all Americans.

Read more on Hardiman’s background.

Josh Hawley

U.S. Senator, Missouri

Josh Hawley currently serves as the junior U.S. Senator from Missouri. Hawley received his B.A. from Stanford University and his J.D. from Yale University, where he was president of the school’s Federalist Society chapter. After law school, he clerked for Judge Michael McConnell of the Tenth Circuit and Chief Justice John Roberts on the Supreme Court. After his clerkships, Hawley worked at Hogan Lovells, and later the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, where he worked on the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case. Hawley also served as a faculty member of the Blackstone Legal Fellowship funded by the Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBT group.

Hawley was elected Attorney General of Missouri in 2016. As AG, he joined other Republican-led states in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ACA. Soon after, in 2018, he was elected to the Senate. As a senator, he has continued to criticize the ACA, claiming that the law “was never constitutional.” He has crusaded against abortion rights, calling for “pro-life judges” to be appointed to the Supreme Court, and even going as far as to say he would not support any Supreme Court nominee who did not explicitly say they would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. He supported the Trump Administration’s practice of separating immigrant families and called the Supreme Court’s decision prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity “the end of the conservative legal movement.”

James Ho

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

James Ho’s nomination would threaten women’s reproductive rights and the rights of the LGBTQ community. He fights for the wealthy and powerful over the rights of all, attacking critical federal agencies that protect workers, consumers, and the environment. His nomination will weaken individual rights and safety and support voter suppression.

Read more on Ho’s background.

Gregory Katsas

U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

Gregory Katsas has spent his career advocating for virtually unchecked executive power, fighting to weaken civil rights laws, and working to eviscerate critical protections for the environment, workers, and consumers. Prior to his confirmation to the D.C. Circuit, Katsas served as Deputy Assistant and Deputy Counsel to President Trump. In this position, he was a Trump loyalist and a White House insider. In addition, Katsas was one of the lead lawyers in NIFB v. Sebelius, basically fighting to take healthcare away from millions. Since his confirmation, he has consistently sided with the President in legal challenges, including in Trump v. Mazars, where he would have denied Congress the ability to obtain President Trump’s tax returns, and ACAP v. Treasury, where he upheld the Trump administration’s expansion of cheap, short-term insurance as an alternative to the ACA.

Read more on Katsas’s background.

Raymond Kethledge

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Raymond Kethledge’s nomination would threaten the rights of consumers, workers, and immigrants, as well as women’s reproductive rights and the rights of the accused. He fights for the wealthy and powerful over the rights of all, attacking critical federal agencies that protect workers, consumers and the environment. His nomination will weaken individual rights and privacy, threaten immigrants’ rights, and support voter suppression.

Read more on Kethledge’s background.

Barbara Lagoa

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

As a judge on the 11th Circuit Court, Lagoa sided with businesses challenging Miami Beach’s decision to raise the minimum wage and made it harder for homeowners to defend themselves against banks that were improperly trying to foreclose upon their homes. On the Eleventh Circuit, she failed to recuse herself from a case involving the disenfranchisement of thousands in Florida and took the lead defending the state’s efforts to prevent eligible Floridians from voting.

Read more on Logoa’s background.

Christopher Landau

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico

Christopher Landau currently serves as the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Landau received his B.A. and J.D. from Harvard University. He clerked for then-Judge Clarence Thomas on the D.C. Circuit, and Justices Thomas and Scalia on the Supreme Court. Later, Landau joined a private practice, where he represented BP after the 2010 oil spill.

Joan Larsen

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Joan Larsen’s nomination would benefit only the wealthy and the powerful. Larsen has demonstrated extreme views when it comes to executive power. During her short time on the Sixth Circuit, Larsen has sided with the wealthy and powerful over the rights of workers. A self-described “originalist,” Larsen is a very vocal admirer of her former boss, the late Justice Scalia, who consistently ruled against protections for workers and consumers, voting rights, the constitutional right to have an abortion, and granting even the most basic protections to LGBTQ individuals.

Read more on Larsen’s background.

Mike Lee

U.S. Senator, Utah

Senator Lee’s views of the Constitution are radically conservative, even when compared with the record of his former boss Justice Alito. Like D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown, Lee is part of a movement of the wealthy and powerful to restore the “Lochner era” and use the Constitution as pretext to roll back progress made on economic and social rights throughout the 20th century. As Jeffrey Rosen wrote in The New Yorker, “Lee offer[s] glimpses of a truly radical vision of the U.S. Constitution, one that sees the document as divinely inspired and views much of what the federal government currently does as unconstitutional.” Rosen further observed: “He embraced ‘nullification,’ the idea that states have the right—and indeed the duty—to disregard federal laws . . .that they say are unconstitutional,” including, for example, the Affordable Care Act.

Lee has also said that “[t]he Constitution says nothing that can plausibly be read” to provide for a right to abortion care, and wrote an entire book, Why John Roberts was Wrong About Healthcare, to explain why the Affordable Care should have been struck down.

Before his Senate run, his legal career included a clerkship for Judge Dee Benson for the District of Utah and two clerkships for Judge (and then Justice) Alito on the Third Circuit and the Supreme Court. He also spent time as an assistant U.S. attorney and in private practice. Now a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lee often speaks about the role of judges and his own judicial philosophy and even published a book on the topic, Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document.

Thomas Lee

Supreme Court of Utah

Thomas Lee, the son of Reagan’s Solicitor General Rex Lee and the brother of Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), was appointed to the Utah Supreme Court in 2010. He was sworn in by Justice Clarence Thomas, for whom he had clerked. Prior to joining the Utah Supreme Court, Lee worked in private practice, taught law at Brigham Young University, and worked in the Civil Division of the Department of Justice under President George W. Bush.

During his tenure on the Utah Supreme Court, Justice Lee has issued opinions that raise questions about his views on reproductive justice, employee rights, criminal justice, and the environment. In Carranza v. United States, Lee wrote a concurring opinion stating that a fetus is a “child” under Utah’s wrongful death statute.

With respect to employee rights, Lee has ruled that under Utah state law, employers are responsible only for the workplace safety of their own employees, not those of subcontractors. He cited “fairness to employers” as outweighing the workplace safety concerns at the core of Utah’s workplace safety laws.

On criminal justice, Justice Lee authored a concurrence arguing that Utah’s prohibition on unreasonable searches—a state analog to the Fourth Amendment—does not include the exclusion of illegally obtained evidence as a remedy for the law’s violation, unlike the Fourth Amendment. The “exclusionary rule” rejected by Lee’s concurrence is critical to ensuring that police do not conduct illegal searches and that illegally obtained evidence cannot be used in court. Lee also dissented from a decision of the Utah Supreme Court which held that the Utah Indigent Defense Act requires the government to provide necessary defense resources—such as expert witnesses or private investigators, as appropriate—to indigent criminal defendants, even if those defendants have found enough resources to hire their own attorney. Lee’s dissent argued that indigent clients should be forced to choose between totally public or totally private financing of their defense. He argued that allowing indigent clients to supplement private counsel with funding for necessary experts allowed them to “hav[e] it both ways.”

Edward Mansfield

Supreme Court of Iowa

Edward Mansfield was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court by Governor Terry Branstad in 2011. He earned his B.A. from Harvard University and his J.D. from Yale Law School. Following his graduation from law school, he clerked for Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. After his clerkship, Mansfield worked in private practice before being appointed to the Iowa Court of Appeals in 2009. He also served as an adjunct professor at Drake University Law School since 1997.

Federico Moreno

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida

Federico Moreno was nominated to the United States District Court for the District of Southern Florida by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. He attended Notre Dame University for his undergraduate degree and earned his J.D. at the University of Miami Law School in 1978. In 1986, Moreno was appointed a Miami-Dade County Court Judge by Governor Bob Graham. A year later, he was elevated to Florida Circuit Judge, where he served for three years.

Carlos Muniz

Supreme Court of Florida

Carlos Muniz is currently a justice on the Florida Supreme Court after being appointed by Republican Governor Ron Desantos in 2019. Muniz received his B.A. from the University of Virginia and J.D. from Yale Law School. After law school, he clerked for Judge Thomas Aquinas Flannery on the D.C. Circuit and Judge José Cabranes on the Second Circuit. He later served as deputy general counsel for Florida Governor Jeb Bush, as policy director of the Republican Party of Florida, counsel to the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, and in various positions in private practice.

Additionally, Muniz worked as deputy attorney general and chief of staff to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. In 2013, he was involved in the discussions with Bondi that led her to taking no prosecutorial action on consumer complaints against the fraudulent Trump University soon after Trump made a sizable donation to Bondi’s reelection campaign. In 2017, President Trump nominated Muniz to become General Counsel to the Department of Education, where he defended Betsy Devos’ actions as Secretary of Education.

Kevin Newsom

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Newsom served as Solicitor General of Alabama under then-Alabama attorney general (and extremely controversial Supreme Court short-lister) William Pryor. As Solicitor General, Newsom had a record of defending questionable death penalty practices in Alabama and advancing arguments to curtail civil rights, including efforts to limit critical protections under Title IX. As an attorney, he has fought efforts by all Americans trying to remedy wrongs committed against them. He wrote critically of substantive due process, an essential constitutional doctrine for women’s rights and LGBTQ rights, for example.

Read more on Newsom’s background.

Martha Pacold

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

Martha Pacold currently serves as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Pacold received her B.A. from Indiana University and J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. After law school, she served as a clerk to Judge Jay Bybee on the Ninth Circuit, Judge A. Raymond Randolph of the D.C. Circuit, and Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. Pacold was a member of the Federalist Society from 2000-2008.

Peter Phipps

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Prior to his confirmation, Peter Phipps served in a variety of roles at the Department of Justice. During his time there, he fought against reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality. He also represented the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the landmark case Thompson v. United States HUD, in which the court held HUD violated the Fair Housing Act through its practice of what the Legal Defense Fund described as “unfairly concentrating African-American public housing residents in the most impoverished, segregated areas of Baltimore City.” Since his appointment to the Third Circuit, Phipps has continued to uphold Trump Administration principles. He dissented from a panel decision that held that public-sector unions do not have to pay back fees collected from nonmembers before the Supreme Court overturned a 40-year precedent in Janus v. AFSCME. The majority, consistent with every other court that has ruled on the issue, held that the union relied in “good faith” on the longstanding Supreme Court precedent.

Read more on Phipps’ background.

Sarah Pitlyk

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri

Sarah Pitlyk has devoted her career to attacking reproductive freedom. Like other Trump nominees, Pitlyk meets the President’s litmus test of hostility to Roe v. Wade and the Affordable Care Act. But her attacks on women’s rights go far beyond mere opposition to abortion. She has fought against assisted reproductive technology, like in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, and has argued that frozen embryos are human beings. More alarmingly, Pitlyk fought a law that would have prevented landlords form evicting their tenants and employers from firing their employees for using birth control or becoming pregnant before marriage. She also defended the unconstitutional Iowa “Heartbeat Bill,” which would have banned abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, a time when most women do not even realize they are pregnant yet.

Read more on Pitlyk’s background.

William Pryor

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Judge Pryor was President George W. Bush’s only appointee to the Eleventh Circuit. Before taking the bench, Judge Pryor served as Alabama’s Attorney General from 1997 to 2004. Citing his public statements on abortion and other social issues, as well as his narrow view of federal powers, Senate Democrats initially blocked Judge Pryor’s nomination. President Bush then made him a recess appointment in 2004 before he was confirmed in 2005 by a vote of 53-45.

As Alabama Attorney General, Judge Pryor characterized Miranda v. Arizona and Roe v. Wade as “the worst examples of judicial activism,” and criticized Roe as “a constitutional right to murder an unborn child.” During his tenure as attorney general, Pryor filed an amicus brief on behalf of the State of Alabama urging the Supreme Court to review and reverse a case that had upheld, against a Commerce Clause challenge, a regulation protecting an endangered species of wolf. In another case, Judge Pryor filed an amicus brief arguing that the Supreme Court should curb the Army Corps of Engineers’ authority under the Clean Water Act to regulate “deep rigging” activity harmful to wetlands on states’ rights grounds.

Judge Pryor has written several opinions adverse to racial justice. In Common Cause/Georgia v. Billups, for example, he wrote the panel opinion upholding Georgia’s voter ID law—a state law that required all registered voters in Georgia to present a government-issued photo identification to vote in person. Although the record showed that nearly half of those the law prevented from voting were African American, Pryor found that the law placed an “insignificant burden” on voters.

Allison Jones Rushing

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Allison Rushing exemplifies the young, minimally qualified, and highly ideological type of judicial nominee that the Trump Administration has sought since it began. Like many other Trump nominees, she appears to have been chosen on the basis of her record of commitment to conservative causes and organizations rather than her legal career and experience. Prior to her confirmation to the Fourth Circuit, Rushing fought against the rights of LGBTQ people as a legal intern at the Alliance Defending Freedom, a group which “has supported the recriminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claims that a ‘homosexual agenda’ will destroy Christianity and society.” She also worked as a corporate appellate lawyer, arguing in one case that employees who were denied overtime pay could then be deprived by their employers of the right to unite and join as a class action in arbitration under the National Labor Relations Act. As a judge, she tried to dismiss a case against Donald Trump for violating the Emoluments Clause and ruled that the Trump Administration domestic gag rule that forbids federally-funded clinics from discussing abortion with their patients can go into effect in Baltimore while an injunction is appealed.

Read more on Rushing’s background.

Margaret Ryan

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

Margaret Ryan was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces by President George W. Bush in 2006. Ryan graduated from Knox College in 1985. In 1992, she enrolled at Notre Dame Law School, and she graduated three years later with a J.D. summa cum laude. Ryan clerked for Judge J. Michael Luttig of the Fourth Circuit (2000-2001) and Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court (2001-2002). She also served in the military and in private practice.

David Stras

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

David Stras’s record raises serious concerns about his commitment to upholding critical Constitutional rights for all Americans, including voting rights and the rights of persons with disabilities. Not only was the process leading to Stras’s court of appeals nomination concerning, but Stras’s record is also deeply troubling. Throughout his career, Stras has repeatedly showcased his far-right leanings. As a state Supreme Court justice, Stras ruled against government transparency, ruled to limit the rights of children with disabilities, and women, and demonstrated that he is not a vigilant protector of voting rights.

Read more on Stras’ background.

Diane Sykes

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Diane Sykes was appointed to the Seventh Circuit by President George W. Bush in 2004. She previously served for five years as a justice on the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, and clerked for her future colleague Judge Terence T. Evans on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

In a controversial workplace discrimination case, Sykes sided with Autozone despite allegations that they transferred an African-American employee from a “Hispanic store” to an “African-American store” as part of a discriminatory policy. As three other judges noted, the decision that Sykes joined meant that the company’s “separate-but-equal arrangement is permissible.”

In 2013, Sykes wrote the opinion in Korte v. Sebelius, which held that both for-profit corporations and their individual owners may challenge the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, and that the mandate “substantially burdens” the religious practice of closely-held corporations whose owners have religious objections to contraception, a view later endorsed by the Supreme Court in Hobby Lobby. At the time, SCOTUSblog described Korte as “the broadest ruling so far by a federal appeals court barring enforcement of the birth-control mandate in the new federal health care law.”

Judge Sykes also endorsed a broad conception of the Second Amendment: In Ezell v. City of Chicago, she wrote the panel opinion that overturned the district court, and enjoined a Chicago ordinance that banned firing ranges within city limits.

Finally, Judges Sykes reinstated Wisconsin’s discriminatory voter ID law after a trial court found that it “results in the denial or abridgment of the right to vote on account of race or color,” and that defenders of the law “could not point to a single instance of known voter impersonation occurring in Wisconsin at any time in the recent past.”

Amul Thapar

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

It is no surprise that Amul Thapar was included on President Donald Trump’s short list. Thapar is a narrow-minded elitist who would protect corporations, the wealthy, and the powerful over all Americans. Thapar had been active in efforts to elect Republicans, including as a member of the Commonwealth Political Action Committee. Key cases throughout Judge Thapar’s career demonstrate that he is a conservative judge willing to push the boundaries of the law to achieve certain results, including denying individuals access to federal court.

Read more on Thapar’ background.

Kate Comerford Todd

Deputy White House Counsel

Kate Comerford Todd currently serves as Deputy White House Counsel in the Trump Administration. Todd received her B.A. from Cornell University and her J.D. from Harvard University. She clerked for Judge Michael Luttig on the Fourth Circuit and Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. Todd later worked in private practice, in the George W. Bush Administration, and for the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center.

In 2019, she became Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Counsel to the President, where she focuses on judicial nominations. She is a member of the Federalist Society.

Timothy Tymkovich

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Timothy Tymkovich was nominated by President Bush to a seat on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Tymkovich’s notable opinions on the Tenth Circuit include Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, holding that for-profit corporations are persons exercising religion freedom for purposes of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and allowing them to assert religious objections to laws that protect their employees’ legal rights.

Tymkovich has advanced a number of controversial positions throughout his career. He argued that Colorado could properly deny Medicaid funding to poor women for abortions to terminate pregnancies that resulted from rape or incest. He asserted that local ordinances that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation conferred “special rights” on LGBTQ people. He opposed Denver’s efforts to restrict assault weapons.

Tymkovich did not simply take these positions as a zealous advocate for his clients. Without regard to the waste of state resources, he pressed a Medicaid funding case all the way to the Supreme Court, where his petition for review was unanimously rejected, in the face of clear precedent and unanimous rejection of his position by lower courts. In response to the Supreme Court ruling in Romer v. Evans that rejected his support of an anti-LGBTQ Colorado law, Tymkovich penned a one-sided law review article in which he made clear that he agreed with the state’s position. He and his coauthors concluded the article by claiming that the decision in Romer “is merely another example of ad hoc, activist jurisprudence without constitutional mooring. If the test of an independent judiciary lies in its response to difficult political decisions, Romer is cause for great uneasiness about the health of self-government.”

Before his judicial appointment, Tymkovich vigorously advocated for positions contrary to the civil and reproductive rights of women. In Hern v. Beye, Tymkovich and the state zealously advocated in defense of a provision denying state funding to poor women seeking abortions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, and aggressively pursued appeals despite a unanimity of authority against the state’s position. In Roberts v. Colorado State Board of Agriculture, Tymkovich and the state appealed to the Tenth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court a trial court’s plain ruling that Colorado State University had violated Title IX.

Lawrence VanDyke

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Throughout his career, Lawrence VanDyke has shown his dedication to serving partisan interests at the expense of clean air, clean water, reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, criminal justice, and education. Prior to being appointed to the Ninth Circuit by Trump, Lawrence VanDyke served as Solicitor General of Montana and Nevada. Public emails from his time as SG of Montana indicate that VanDyke was much more interested in poring through briefs from other states, including those concerning gun safety measures (like those attacking bans on semiautomatic weapons), defending abortion bans, bans on same-sex marriage, and attacking access to contraceptives. He was given an unqualified rating by the American Bar Association because it concluded from interviews with former colleagues that he is “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-today practice including procedural rules.”

Read more on VanDyke’s background.

Don Willett

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Don Willett’s record shows that he is a champion of undermining environmental, health, and safety regulations wherever possible, regardless of the harm to workers, consumers, and the public. It’s worth noting that at a time when the issue of sexual harassment is finally getting serious attention nationwide, Willett has done real harm by ruling to limit the recourse available to victims of harassment and discrimination. Willett boasted of being the most conservative justice on the Texas Supreme Court. His record shows that he is hostile to regulations that require corporations to respect the rights of workers, health and safety standards, or the environment. He has opposed rights for women and LGBTQ people.

Read more on Willett’s background.

Patrick Wyrick

Supreme Court of Oklahoma

Despite his short legal career, Wyrick has made a name for himself as a protégé of current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, for whom he worked during Pruitt’s tenure as Oklahoma Attorney General. Wyrick has taken far-right stances on a number of controversial issues. While working as the Solicitor General of Oklahoma, Wyrick assisted Pruitt in dismantling environmental protections and was criticized for enabling Pruitt’s tight-knit relationship with oil and gas lobbyists. Wyrick also advocated for restrictions on women’s reproductive health, helped dismantle protections for workers, defended a law that attempted to codify religious intolerance toward Muslims, and even came under fire for allegedly attempting to mislead the U.S. Supreme Court during his defense of Oklahoma’s death penalty protocol.

Read more on Wyrick’s background.

Robert Young

Former Supreme Court of Michigan

Robert Young was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court by former Republican Governor John Engler in 1999. Young is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

In 2007, Young authored an opinion upholding the state’s voter photo identification law, holding that requiring voters to present photo ID before casting a ballot “is a reasonable, nondiscriminatory restriction designed to preserve the purity of elections and to prevent abuses of the electoral franchise.” Two of Young’s colleagues dissented from his opinion upholding the law, arguing that “today’s decision …endorses misguided legislation that significantly impairs the fundamental right of thousands of our citizens to vote” and that “those most severely prejudiced by today’s decision are the impoverished and disadvantaged.” Justice Marilyn Kelly ended her dissent by stating “history will judge us harshly for joining those states that have limited the precious constitutional right to vote.”

Young also wrote an opinion limiting the ability of environmental groups to stop corporations from inflicting environmental harm. In Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation v. Nestle Water NA, Inc., Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) sued Nestle under the Michigan Environmental Protection Act (MEPA) to stop it from extracting water from 139 acres in Mecosta County in Michigan. MCWC argued that Nestle’s pumping of water, at up to 400 gallons per minute, would irreparably harm the local environment. Over the dissent of three colleagues, Young ruled that only citizens with “particularized injuries” could sue under MEPA. The Michigan League of Conservation Voters noted the adverse effect the ruling would have on the state: “The majority’s ruling to eliminate the ability of any citizen to protect the natural resources of the state severely weakens environmental protection in Michigan.”