Vivek Ramaswamy releases conservative pool of Supreme Court picks

WASHINGTON — Borrowing a tactic from former President Donald Trump, 2024 GOP Oval Office hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy released a list of potential conservative Supreme Court nominees Monday.

The list includes two senators — Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah — former Solicitor General Paul Clement and half a dozen of the most conservative federal appeals court judges in the nation. Some of them have worked to limit abortion and transgender rights.

Ramaswamy also named seven judges, from various federal district courts, the U.S. Court of International Trade and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, as the group from which he would select U.S. circuit court nominees if elected. .

“We were looking for a diversity of views on the Constitution, but without a diversity of commitment to the originalist understanding of the Constitution,” Ramaswamy said in an interview with NBC News.

In May 2016, as Trump locked in the Republican nomination, he delighted conservatives by announcing his own list of 11 people he could nominate to succeed Antonin Scalia. None of them was Neil Gorsuch, whom Trump did nominate and who now sits on the high court.

Ramaswamy said he could add to his pool later. But for now, it consists of Cruz, Lee, Clement and these six judges: James Ho, Lawrence VanDyke, Lisa Branch, Thomas Hardiman, Justin Walker and John Bush.

Ho and Branch said they would not hire Yale and Stanford lawyers in retaliation for what they describe as the “cancellation culture” at those universities. Ramaswamy, a businessman and author, holds a law degree from Yale.

A gifted public speaker who denounces “woke” Democrats, Ramaswamy has generated modest buzz in Republican circles, but polls are generally single digits in national polls in the GOP domain.

Few issues are as important to Republican primary voters as the composition of the court, and candidates often try to reassure those voters that they will choose conservative justices.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who ranks second in national polls, recently said that the three justices Trump appointed to the Supreme Court did not meet the “gold standard”.

“We’ll do better than that,” DeSantis told radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Ramaswamy, whose slate includes several Trump appointees, said the former president’s nominees have been “outstanding” on the Supreme Court and lower federal benches.

“It’s not just a misplaced criticism,” Ramaswamy said. “It’s borderline bizarre.”

He said his decision to release lists of judges was not originally motivated by Trump’s use of the maneuver during the 2016 and 2020 campaigns. But by the time he released his own list on Monday, he was well aware that Trump had taken similar action.

Ramaswamy’s pool of U.S. circuit court seats is also made up of conservative stalwarts: U.S. District Court Judges Martha Pacold, Sarah Pitlyk, Kathryn Mizelle, Matthew Kacsmaryk, and Brantley Starr, as well as Stephen Alexander Vaden of the U.S. Court of Justice. International Trade and Ryan Holte of the United States Federal Court of Claims.

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