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Quick Reads on Trump's Likely Supreme Court Nominees

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on January 30, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

We'll be getting a Supreme Court nominee a little earlier than expected, it turns out. This morning, President Donald Trump tweeted that he'll be announcing his Supreme Court pick tomorrow night, a few days ahead of the previously scheduled reveal. (Maybe to distract from something, perhaps?)

Trump's list has been narrowed down to three people, according to insiders: Neil Gorsuch, of the Tenth Circuit, Thomas Hardiman, of the Third, and William Pryor, of the Eleventh. So, if you're looking to catch up on the candidates, here are some great places to start.

Neil Gorsuch: A Mini-Scalia, Except in One Area of Law

President Trump has said he's looking for a jurist in Scalia's mold, and Gorsuch seems to fit. He's an originalist, a textualist, a solid conservative, a sharp writer. But, there is one major area of contrast: Gorsuch's take on administrative law.

Admin law may not be the sexiest area of law, but it's one of the most important when reviewing government programs and action. When it came to admin law, Justice Scalia, and many other conservative lawyers and judges, was a staunch supporter of judicial deference. If the government's administration or interpretation of a statute was, in most circumstances, reasonable, then the government's action should be upheld.

That position made sense to conservatives under President Reagan and following the Warren Court, but in recent years, there has been a significant push back against deference. Gorsuch is one such pusher. Excessive deference can give too much power to government agencies, Gorsuch recently argued, usurping the courts' role in statutory interpretation. "We managed to live with the administrative state before Chevron," he wrote. "We could do it again."

SCOTUSblog's Eric Citron has a good review of Gorsuch's position on admin law, and others.

Thomas Hardiman: An Alternative Kind of Supreme Court Diversity

The Supreme Court has been rightly criticized for its lack of diversity: it is an institution governed by predominantly white men, with law degrees from Harvard and Yale, served by white, male clerks with law degrees from Harvard and Yale. Half of the current justices grew up in New York City, and almost all of them are millionaires.

A Justice Hardiman could shake that up a bit. If nominated and confirmed, he'd become the only non-Ivy League grad on the bench. Hardiman, the first in his family to go to college, attended Georgetown University for law school.

And though Georgetown is one of the better law schools in the country, when it comes to today's Supreme Court, a GULC degree basically makes you Horatio Alger -- in the rags, not the riches, stage. Even more, not only did Hardiman not attend Harvard, he drove a cab while studying the law, to help offset the cost of his degree.

CNN's Ariane de Vogue has a great write up on his backstory.

William Pryor: A Conservative Judge That Has Some Right-Wingers Upset

There's no question about it: William Pryor is a staunchly conservative jurist. When the Supreme Court was considering decriminalizing homosexuality, Pryor, then attorney general for Alabama, argued against it. (He lost that argument.) When it comes to Roe v. Wade, he's described the decision as an "abomination." In crim law cases, he almost always sides with the government. He has an expansive view of the Second Amendment and is skeptical of federal regulation.

But, that's not good enough in some corners. Pryor has been criticized for joining ruling a ruling extending anti-discrimination protections to transgender workers, as well as a few other decisions on LGBT rights.

The National Review has some background, and an argument in favor of Pryor's conservative bona fides.

Who do you think Trump will pick? Let us know in the poll below.

Who Will Trump Nominate to the Supreme Court?
Neil Gorsuch
Thomas Hardiman
William Pryor

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