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Who Are Trump's 11 Potential Supreme Court Nominees?

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. | Last updated on

A few months ago, the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency was widely dismissed. Now, the Donald has become the presumptive Republican nominee, giving him a not-insignificant chance at ruling the most powerful country in the world -- and selecting its Supreme Court justices.

And while Senate Republicans have stalled the nomination of Merrick Garland, President Obama's pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Trump has been busy putting together his own list of potential nominees, which he released today. Let's take a look.

Trump's Top 11 Nominees

In March, Trump promised to release a list of potential nominees, in part to quiet conservative concerns about what a Trump presidency may look like. It's taken him a few weeks, but he's finally come out with a full list of candidates.

1. Steven Colloton -- Colloton is a federal judge for the Eighth Circuit, a Yale Law grad, and a former clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He's a fitting choice for Trump, who has talked of reviving Clinton-era scandals in his fight against Hillary, as Colloton also served as associate independent counsel for Kenneth Starr.

2. Allison Eid -- Eid is a justice on the Colorado Supreme Court and former clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas. Eid got her start in education and politics, working as a speechwriter for Reagan's Secretary of Education, William Bennet, but transitioned to law in the 90's, graduating with high honors for the University of Chicago. She's not exactly a stranger the U.S. Supreme Court, either, having worked on the committee that writes the Court's official history.

3. Raymond Greunder -- Another Eighth Circuit judge, Greunder is a three-time Washington University in St. Louis grad, having earned his AB, JD, and MBA there. Since joining the Eighth Circuit in 2004, Greunder has been a consistently conservative jurist, ruling to exclude a right to contraceptive coverage from the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and dissenting from Eighth Circuit opinions striking down abortion restrictions.

4. Thomas Hardiman -- A Third Circuit judge (and colleague of Donald Trump's sister), Hardiman got his start in private practice, working for the Pittsburg firm of Titus & McConomy and eventually becoming a partner at Reed Smith. Hardiman's jurisprudence tends to be unforgiving to criminal defendants and reliably conservative. He dissented from the Third Circuit decision upholding New Jersey's restrictions of public carry licenses, for example.

5. Raymond Kethledge - A judge for the Sixth Circuit, Kethledge is a Michigan Law grad and a former clerk for Justice Kennedy. Before being nominated to the Sixth by President George W. Bush, Kethledge worked as counsel for the Ford Motor Company.

6. Joan Larsen - Larsen is an associate justice on the Michigan Supreme Court. Before joining the bench, Larsen graduated first in her class from Northwestern University, clerked for Justice Scalia, and taught law at the University of Michigan.

7. Thomas Lee - Lee is another state supreme court judge, this time from Utah's high court. Lee, who once clerked for Justice Thomas, specialized in intellectual property law before becoming a judge. He's one of the first judges to use "corpus linguistics" -- or the computer analysis of a body of language -- to determine the meaning of a legal text.

8. William Pryor - An Eleventh Circuit judge, Pryor has a long career in government service. When he served as the attorney general for Alabama, he was the youngest AG in the U.S. He's called Roe v. Wade the "worst abomination in the history of constitutional law," and decried the Supreme Court as the seat of "nine octogenarian lawyers." But, he's not entirely predictable either. When Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore refused an order to remove the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building, Pryor called for his removal.

9. David Stras - Stras is an associate justice for the Minnesota Supreme Court and a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Law. He's clerked for Justice Thomas and went on to devote significant study to judicial appointments, politics, pensions and more. He's also the first Jewish justice on the Minnesota high court.

10. Diane Sykes - Sykes currently serves on the Seventh Circuit, having formerly sat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. On both courts, she earned a reputation as a regular dissenter, who was not afraid to take on her colleagues when she disagreed with their interpretation of the law. She's also issued important rulings on topics as diverse as the Second Amendment and wildflower art.

11. Don Willett - You might know Judge Willet from Twitter, where he's a major figure in the legal Twitterati. When he's not tweeting, he also serves on the Texas Supreme Court.

Trump's list is heavy on the state Supreme Court justices and circuit judges from middle America. One went to Yale Law and none to Harvard, a noted break from a Supreme Court that's dominated by Harvard and Yale grads. The group is heavy on Thomas clerks, light on ethnic diversity.

As the AP reports, when Trump first said he would release a list, he promised it would include jurists "that everybody respects, likes and totally admires" and "great conservative judges, great intellects, the people that you want."

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