President Trump is set to announce his nominee for the Supreme Court on Monday and has reportedly narrowed his choice to three finalists, all of whom currently serve as justices on various Courts of Appeal: Brett Kavanaugh of the District of Columbia Circuit, Amy Coney Barrett of the 7th Circuit (based in Chicago) and Raymond Kethledge of the 6th Circuit (based in Cincinnati).
But what would these judges mean for the Supreme Court in replacing retiring swing voter Justice Anthony Kennedy? Here is what you need to know about the three finalists and their most newsworthy rulings.
Kavanaugh’s dissents in two lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency were cited by the Supreme Court in ruling against the EPA, making Kavanaugh an enemy of left-wing environmental groups.
Kavanaugh was involved in a recent abortion-related case. In Garza v. Hargan, an illegal alien minor girl detained by the U.S. government wanted an abortion without her parent’s consent. Kavanaugh joined a ruling against the girl, but declined to join a different ruling which stated the infamous abortion case Roe v. Wade was improperly decided.
In Seven-Sky v. Holder and in Sissel v. United States Department of Health & Human Services, Kavanaugh voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) on originalist grounds. His Sissel decision was the first to establish that the ACA mandate to purchase health insurance was actually a tax and therefore constitutional, a ruling that Chief Justice John Roberts would later use to uphold the law.
The bottom line is Kavanaugh has a long history of originalist rulings, but this orginalism might not always yield the results that Republicans desire.
Amy Coney Barrett
Barrett has been part of the 7th Circuit for less than a year, and her only case that drew even minor attention was Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. AutoZone, Inc., where the auto company was sued for allegedly using race as a factor when deciding in which store to place an employee. Barrett joined the ruling to uphold the decision; however, the court was not divided on partisan lines.
Barrett has extensive legal writings. She has criticized judges who, only for the sake of consistency, continually rely on faulty precedents; as one of many examples she cited past abortion rulings. Barrett has also written about how a judge should reconcile his or her faith with a duty to uphold the law.
Barrett’s personal life will likely come into the picture. She has very traditionalist Catholic views. She has adopted two children from Haiti, in addition to her five biological children. She previously clerked for Justice Anton Scalia.
Because of her traditionalist lifestyle and lack of judicial experience, Barrett is a wild card.
Kethledge has not faced any high-profile cases dealing with social issues in his 10 years on the 6th Circuit. However, Kethledge has become known as a strong critic of bureaucratic power, particularly when he feels this power is being abused. He issued a harsh ruling against the IRS stemming from its mistreatment of Tea Party-related groups.
An academic paper on Kethledge questioned if he was truly committed to originalism and to removing his personal biases from his decisions. This paper scored Kethledge’s rulings low on originalist thought.
Kethledge, based in the Midwest, hasn’t been tested on controversial social issues that a coastal judge would face. Therefore, he could be seen as more of a safe pick if Trump wishes to avoid contentious hearings.