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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”