As he promised to do when hard-core conservatives grew restive over a heretical Supreme Court decision authored by Neil Gorsuch (validating coverage of LGBTQ employees under federal civil-rights laws) and John Roberts (striking down a Louisiana abortion law), the president has added 20 right-wing legal beagles to his preexisting list of 25 prospects for the next Trump Supreme Court nomination. The list includes one of the ringleaders of the summer’s backlash, Senator Josh Hawley, a social conservative zealot of the highest order who recently said he’d never vote to confirm a justice who wasn’t on record calling Roe v. Wade “wrongly decided.”
Hawley’s Senate colleagues and fellow-conservative wild men Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton are also on the list, making it pretty clear Trump is willing to do whatever the right wing of his party wants in the way of a conservative counterrevolution on the Court. Cotton, in particular, is an eyebrow-raising prospect, given the contempt for the rule of law he expressed in encouraging Trump to send troops into American cities to suppress racial-justice protests. And this very day, Cotton made it clear he would meet the Hawley test for confirmation:
Trump also named another pol, Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron, a Black Republican who made an impressive appearance at the RNC, to his list. But most of his added jurists are either Trump administration alums (including former Solicitor General Noel Francisco) or Federalist Society members whom Trump already placed in lower court positions. These include controversial Trump nominees like Sarah Pitlyk, the conservative lawyer with anti-abortion credentials who was rated as “unqualified” by the American Bar Association because she lacked trial experience, and Allison Jones Rushing, appointed to the Fourth Circuit Court at the tender age of 37 despite (or because of) a connection with a Christian right group.
The new SCOTUS hopefuls join such luminaries as Amy Coney Barrett, another gold-plated cultural conservative who is the front-runner for the next SCOTUS opening, particularly if it’s the seat currently held by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In announcing his augmented list (the importance of which was underlined by the fact that the event exposed him to media questions about his troubling remarks recorded by Bob Woodward), Trump challenged Biden to do the same. It was a pointed reminder to conservative Evangelicals and others obsessed with SCOTUS that, despite a few dubious decisions by the current conservatives on the Court, it could be a whole lot worse for enthusiasts of voter suppression, the white patriarchy, a heavily armed populace, the religious right to discriminate, and entrenched property rights.