Monday, January 9, 2017

The Supreme Court short list

President-elect Trump has narrowed his short list to replace the late Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court. Politico reports that there are now eight serious contenders.

Judge William Pryor of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has made no secret of the fact that he opposes Roe v. Wade, both for its shoddy legal reasoning and for its lethal results. In fact, he calls Roe “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.” Also in the pro column: he is only 54 years old.

Judge Diane Sykes of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has a mixed record. Pro-abortion groups opposed her nomination to the Seventh Circuit because, as a trial court judge, she expressed admiration for pro-life defendants who had been arrested during a protest. On the other hand, she concurred in a 2012 decision favoring Planned Parenthood in its suit against Indiana, which had passed a defunding law. The majority decision was based purely on the court's reading of a federal Medicaid statute (which the next Congress is likely to amend), and the majority made clear that it found Planned Parenthood's constitutional arguments to be without merit. Judge Sykes, however, declined to sign on to the portion of the opinion rejecting the constitutional argument, which she would have remanded to the lower court.

Judge Raymond Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is known for taking conservative positions generally, but I could not find any rulings or public statements from him concerning the right to life. Live Action News expresses concern that Judge Kethledge is overly faithful to precedent, even when those precedents are terribly wrong.

Justice Joan Larsen of the Michigan Supreme Court also has a thin record, having spent most of her legal career in academia. The fact that she clerked for the late Justice Scalia strongly suggests that she opposes abortion, but is no guarantee. It would be poetic to see Justice Scalia's former clerk take his seat on the Court. Demographics count too; so far, all female Justices have been abortion supporters, and a female pro-life Justice could credibly push back against the insulting argument that abortion is necessary for gender equality. Personally, I'd pick Justice Larsen over Judge Sykes. Plus, Judge Larsen is only 48 years old!

Judge Neil Gorsuch of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a strong dissent from a decision favoring Planned Parenthood, specifically noting that the Governor of Utah was within his rights to suspend funding to Planned Parenthood in response to the Center for Medical Progress videos. His out-of-court writings also contain statements favorable to the right to life. Judge Gorsuch is 49 years old.

Judge Steven Colloton and Judge Raymond Greunder serve together on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which rejected a pro-abortion challenge to a South Dakota informed consent law. Judge Greunder authored the opinion, and Judge Colloton joined it. Both judges are 53 years old.

Politico notes Judge Greunder's compelling biography:
His father worked as a janitor and a house painter, at one point paying his son 25 cents an hour to scrape paint. That’s the milder part of the story. In 1986, his father grew enraged after his mother fled to avoid continued spousal abuse. During the argument, his father pulled a gun, shooting Gruender and his sister. The future judge’s father then committed suicide. Gruender suffered a damaged liver and kidney, but he recovered and soon returned to law school. (His sister also survived.)
Something tells me pro-abortion lawyers will have a hard time making the "babies are better off being aborted than born into an unstable family" argument to Judge Greunder's face.

Judge Thomas Hardiman of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals does not appear to have made any rulings or public statements concerning abortion. If I missed something, please let me know.

Readers: who do you like?

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