How Should Trump Pick the Next Supreme Court Justice?

One of the most hotly debated issues in the recent Presidential election was filling the Supreme Court vacancy created by the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia earlier this year.  During the campaign, candidate Trump promised to fill the vacancy with a jurist that is close in judicial philosophy to the late Justice Antonin Scalia.  But how would Mr. Trump and his staff evaluate potential candidates to find such a replacement.

During the campaign, Mr. Trump issued a list from which he would pick a potential replacement.  That list included some 21 names and was largely compiled by conservative think tank organizations like the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.

The question then becomes, what factors should Trump and his advisers use in the selection process to maximize the likelihood that Scalia’s replacement will vote like he would have?  Dr. Dariush Adli, President of the renowned Los Angeles based firm ADLI Law Group, notes that “to pick a justice who is most likely to follow the voting pattern of Scalia requires a careful study of the candidates’ legal reasoning and judicial philosophy.”

Dr. Adli urges team Trump to carefully study and analyze the candidates’ track record of written legal opinions to identify their judicial approach and philosophy in order to confirm it matches the expectations they have for the selected justice.  “History is full of warning signs and replete with examples of Presidents picking justices believing them to be of a certain political bend or persuasion, only to be disappointed once the justice took his/her seat on the bench and began to vote.”  Dr. Adli added.

Many scholars have pointed to the selection of Justice David Souter by President George H.W. Bush, as  an example of a flawed selection process.  By all indications, President Bush expected to nominate a conservative, but turned out to have nominated one of the most liberal justices on the Court.  Dr. Adli points out that “picking a justice with a known track record of written opinions is crucial to ensure that the Souter blunder does not repeat itself.”

“President Elect Trump would be well advised to keep in mind President Lincoln’s main reason for selecting Salmon Chase as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at the tail end of the civil war, where many crucial issues awaited the Court.  Explaining his choice of Chase, Lincoln pointed out that Chase’s views ‘were known to be in line with Lincoln’s on issues that were critical to the administration and would soon be decided by the Court, notably the upholding of Lincoln’s policies on emancipation and legal tender.’” Dr.  Adli noted.

© 2017 Dr. Dariush Adli