Justice Anthony Kennedy's replacement will come from Trump's list of 25 potential names

  • Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has announced his retirement, giving President Donald Trump the opportunity to nominate a replacement to the court.
  • Trump last year added five people to his shortlist of possible Supreme Court picks.
  • The list features 25 people.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said his nomination to replace the retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy would come from a list of 25 people that was originally released during his campaign.

Trump’s original list was released in September 2016 before he was elected president and included Neil Gorsuch, a former federal appeals court judge in Colorado who now sits on the Supreme Court in the seat left vacant by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Trump added five people to the shortlist last year.

“President Trump will choose a nominee for a future Supreme Court vacancy, should one arise,” the White House said in a statement announcing the updated list. “The president remains deeply committed to identifying and selecting outstanding jurists in the mould of Justice Gorsuch.”

Here are the original names:

Last year’s additions are made of up three federal appeals court judges and two state Supreme Court justices. Two of the additions are women:

  • Amy Coney Barrett, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
  • Britt Grant, a Georgia state Supreme Court justice
  • Brett Kavanaugh, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit
  • Kevin Newsom, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
  • Patrick Wyrick, an Oklahoma state Supreme Court justice

Shortly after the list was updated last year, the White House counsel Don McGahn gave a hat tip to the new potential nominees during a speech to the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group that frequently weighs in on the Trump administration’s federal judicial nominees. The audience applauded and cheered as McGahn read the five names.

“What do the judges on the list have in common? They have a demonstrated commitment to originalism and textualism,” McGahn said. “Good judges follow the law, even when their decisions are unpopular. Judicial courage is as important as judicial independence.”

McGahn was referring to two schools of thought among legal scholars, which favours interpreting laws according to the meaning of the Constitution as it was written or according to the plain text of the documents over the intent of their authors. Gorsuch, like Scalia, is frequently described as both an originalist and a textualist.

Last year, Trump reportedly told multiple people in private he believed he would be able to fill three more Supreme Court seats – those of Kennedy as well as Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. According to the news website Axios, Trump cited the 84-year-old Ginsburg’s age and Sotomayor’s health – she has Type 1 diabetes – as reasons he believed their seats would soon be vacant.

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