DemDaily: Contenders For the Court

January 27, 2017

As the Cabinet confirmation hearings drag on, we await the announcement of Trump's most important nominee - to the United States Supreme Court.

The Court has been absent one seat since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia February 13, 2016. Although President Obama nominated Chief Judge of the DC Court of Appeals Merrick Garland, the prospect of a confirmation hearing was dashed with the election and the Republican hold on control of the US Senate.

March for Life Protesters

Although nominated last March, Senate leadership refused to schedule a hearing on Garland's nomination while Obama was still in office - in hopes that an incoming Republican president could make a more conservative appointment.

Enter Mr. Trump, who claims to have "made my decision pretty much in my mind," and is expected to announce his pick next Thursday.

In the interim, last weekend's Women's March on Washington and, by contrast, today's 42nd annual March for Life, are stark reminders of what is at stake. Vice President Mike Pence was the keynote speaker for today's pro-life march.

The top three contenders for President Trump's nomination to the High Court:

Contenders for the Court

William Pryor
Pryor, considered a dream candidate by conservatives, is a former Attorney General of Alabama and currently sits on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. He has called Roe v. Wade an "abomination," and has been a vocal voice on strict separation of governmental powers, once stating that "courts should not resolve political problems."

Neil Gorsuch

Pryor was nominated by President Bush for a place on the 11th Circuit in 2003, but the nomination stalled after Senate Democrats (and a few Republicans) criticized Pryor for several incidents, including his written defense of the Texas law banning sodomy (that was later struck down in Lawrence v. Texas).

Neil Gorsuch
Gorsuch, who sits on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, is based in Colorado and is known for his commitment to religious liberty -- having sided with corporations on the famous Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby case, which argued against Obamacare contraceptive mandates.

While pundits tag Gorsuch as the frontrunner, some GOP lawmakers have reservations over the fact that he has never published a written opinion opposing Roe v. Wade.

Thomas Hardiman
Hardiman, of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, is lesser known to the Senate Republicans. Although credited as a conservative voice on the court, his lack of record on other issues close to the heart of the GOP is of some concern.

The Pittsburgh native is considered a long shot in most camps, but his unorthodox style, modest roots and youth at 51 could still make for a winning combination with President Trump.

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 Sources: CNN, ABC News

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