President Donald Trump says he will nominate a woman to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat on the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, leaving two conservative circuit court judges as the front-runners for the lifetime appointment.
Barbara Lagoa, a former Florida Supreme Court Justice who was named to the federal bench by Trump less than a year ago, comes from a pivotal state where polls have given Joe Biden a narrow lead. Lagoa could become the first Cuban American to serve on the nation’s highest court.
Also at the top of the list, according to multiple reports, is Amy Coney Barrett, a staunch conservative and former Notre Dame law professor who clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia.
U.S. Circuit Court Judge Allison Jones Rushing is also reportedly under consideration. She clerked for then-Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch and for Justice Clarence Thomas. He interned for an anti-LGBTQ group, the Alliance Defending Freedom.
All three women have the potential to serve decades on the Supreme Court: Lagoa is 52, Barrett is 48, and Rushing is just 38.
The Senate confirmed Lagoa to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the 11th Circuit in November 2019 by a vote of 80-1
When the Senate Judiciary Committee considered Lagoa, New Jersey’s Cory Booker voted against her.
But Booker wasn’t in Washington when Lagoa came up for a full Senate vote. There was a Democratic presidential debate in Atlanta that night. So were Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar.
New Jersey’s senior senator, Bob Menendez, voted yes on Lagoa’s confirmation, along with 25 other Democratic senators.
The top court is a different animal, although the possible nomination of a historic Cuban-American Supreme Court Justice might cause Menendez some agita.
Booker voted against the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to be a U.S. Circuit Court Judge for the 7th Circuit in 2017; Booker did not join the Judiciary Committee until 2018.
Menendez did not vote on that nomination. The Senate confirmed her, 55-43.
The Senate confirmed Rushing by a 53-44 vote in March 2019. Booker and Menendez both voted no. Booker also voted against Rushing’s nomination in the Judiciary Committee.
Five other relatively young women named to the Court of Appeals by are on Trump’s list: U.S. Circuit Court Judges Bridget Shelton Bade (Arizona); Sarah Pitlyk (Illinois); Britt Grant (Georgia); Allison Eid (Colorado); and Joan Larsen (Michigan). Also on the list in U.S. District Court Judge Martha Pacold (Illinois), a former Thomas law clerk named by Trump.
Menendez and Booker voted against Bade and Grant. Menendez voted against Pitlyk and Pacold, but was not present for the vote son Eid and Larsen. Booker voted against Eid and in favor of Larsen, but did not vote on Pitlyk and Pacold.
Two of Trump’s potential Supreme Court nominees were nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush: U.S. Circuit Court Judge Diane Dykes (Wisconsin); and Margaret Ryan, a retired Marine whos served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and clerked for Thomas.
New Jersey’s Frank Lautenberg and Jon Corzine voted against Sykes in 2004. Ryan cleared the Senate by voice vote in 2006; Menendez and Lautenberg were in office at the time.
Also on Trump’s list is Kate Todd, the White House Deputy Counsel and also a former Thomas law clerk. She would be the first Supreme Court nominee without prior judicial experience since Richard Nixon picked William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell in 1972.
Despite Trump’s statement that he would nominate a woman, national media continue to include Amul Thaper, a U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky to the list. Thaper is an ally of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Menendez and Booker both voted against confirming Thaper.