President Donald Trump on Friday added federal appellate Judge Brett Kavanaugh and four other jurists to his list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court. White House counsel Don McGahn said the group reflects the Trump administration’s vision of the judiciary.
Kavanaugh recently wrote a dissent when his colleagues on the federal appeals court in Washington allowed an immigrant teen in U.S. custody to have an abortion. The 52-year-old Kavanaugh was once a law clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The other judges added to Trump’s list are two more federal appellate judges, Amy Coney Barrett and Kevin Newsom, and two state Supreme Court justices, Britt Grant of Georgia and Patrick Wyrick of Oklahoma.
All of them “have a demonstrated commitment to originalism and textualism,” McGahn told a gathering of the conservative Federalist Society Friday night. “They all have paper trail. They all are sitting judges. What you see is what you get.”
During her confirmation hearing, Barrett was caught in the middle of a partisan fight over whether religious faith influences legal opinions. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told Barrett she was concerned “that the dogma lives loudly within you.”
“Judge Dogma is on the list,” McGahn said Friday, pushing back on that criticism.
The additional names come even as Trump adviser Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society, said there is no indication the 81-year-old Kennedy or any other justice is planning to leave the court.
Trump selected Justice Neil Gorsuch from among 21 candidates, almost all judges.
The conservative legal group has played a large role in helping vet Trump’s list of potential nominees. But McGahn said he saw no problem with that.
“Our opponents of judicial nominees frequently claim the president has outsourced his selection of judges. That is false,” McGahn argued. “I’ve been a member of the Federalist Society since law school, still am. So frankly, it seems like it’s been insourced. … We all share the same vision of the judicial role, and we welcome input from many sources.”