The Donald Trump campaign today released a list of eleven potential Supreme Court justices from which he says he would pick a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia if he were elected president. The list includes: Steven Colloton of Iowa, Allison Eid of Colorado, Raymond Gruender of Missouri, Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, Joan Larsen of Michigan, Thomas Lee of Utah, William Pryor of Alabama, David Stras of Minnesota, Diane Sykes of Wisconsin and Don Willett of Texas. The move was seen as an attempt by Trump to assuage fears within the GOP that he would nominate a “too liberal” judge to the bench, with Trump saying that the list “is representative of the kind of constitutional principles I value,” although he has previously suggested that his main concern in filling the court’s vacancy was nominating someone who would continue the political prosecution of Hillary Clinton.
Regardless of the ideological or political flavor of his picks, one thing that immediately jumps out about the bill of potential nominees is that it contains no racial or ethnic minorities, and is overwhelmingly male at that. Whether this is representative of the general demographics of conservatism or the particular white supremacist tendencies of the Trump campaign is up for debate, but it is unsettling given Trump’s repeated brushes with avowed white supremacists and the general nationalist tenor of his campaign.
To be sure the Supreme Court, like all of the organs of power in this country, has been almost exclusively the domain of white men throughout much of its history. President Obama, however, made significant progress in this domain in nominating two women – Elena Kagan and Sonya Sotomayor – to the high court, with Sotomayor being the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice. The Trump campaign thus seems to be aiming to stop social progress in its tracks and turn back the clock to when America was “great” – for the white men who ruled it exclusively for much of its history.
James DeVinne is a student at American University in Washington, DC majoring in International Service with a focus on the Middle East and South Asia. He is a founding member of Occupy Baltimore and interns at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.