Trump adds ambassador to Mexico to list of possible Supreme Court nominees
President Donald J. Trump announces his updated list of potential Supreme Court nominees and answers reporters' questions about his response to the coronavirus during an event at the White House, in Washington on 09 September 2020. EFE/EPA/Doug Mills / POOL
Washington, Sep 9 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Wednesday updated his list of possible nominees to the Supreme Court - if a seat or seats open up there before he leaves office or during a prospective second term - and he included the current US ambassador to Mexico, Christopher Landau, and Hispanic Sen. Ted Cruz as two of the possible appointees.
During the 2016 election campaign, Trump promised that all his nominees for the high court would come from a list of 21 judges who have received the green light from the Christian right, oppose abortion and have promised to protect the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
In a White House event on Wednesday, Trump added 20 additional names to the list in an apparent attempt to motivate conservative voters to back him in the November presidential election in the knowledge that - if reelected and court seats become vacant - he will strengthen the conservative majority on the country's highest court.
Trump said that appointing justices to the Supreme Court is "the most important decision an American president can make," adding that during a second term, he could possibly be called upon to name up to four justices.
"For this reason, candidates for president owe the American people a specific list of individuals they consider for the United States Supreme Court," he said.
Seats on the Supreme Court are lifetime appointments, but the president said he was certain that - during a prospective second term - he would be able to fill the seats of octogenarians Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, ages 87 and 82, respectively, who are two of the four progressive magistrates on the body, which has five other members with conservative leanings.
Trump included on the list Landau, who since last year has served as US envoy to Mexico and before that worked as an attorney and legal assistant to one of the current conservative justices, Clarence Thomas, and for another high court justice who died in 2016, Antonin Scalia.
Holding a doctorate in jurisprudence from the Harvard Law School, Landau, in his role as ambassador, has overseen a phase of steadily improving relations between Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, which culminated in the two leaders recently meeting at the White House.
Trump also included three Republican US senators on the updated list, although one of them, Josh Hawley, subsequently said on his Twitter account that he has "no interest" in serving on the high court.
However, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas - who has a Cuban father and staged his own failed run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, competing with Trump for the party's nod - said on Wednesday in a tweet that he considered it "an immense honor" to have been selected for the list, taking advantage of the situation to promote his book on the Supreme Court.
Finally, the president selected Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, well known for his hardline stances on immigration, who reacted to the news on Twitter by saying that it's time to overturn the high court's 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the US.
The list updated by Trump also includes a Florida Supreme Court justice, Carlos Muñiz, who served as the solicitor general of the United States from 2017-2020, is Asian-American and has been a strong supporter of the president.
During his term in office, Trump has seen the Senate confirm more than 200 federal judges he nominated, including two justices for the Supreme Court, a tally that stands as an historic record compared with other presidents.
The president urged his Democratic rival in the November election, former Vice President Joe Biden, to also publish a list from which he would select potential nominees for the high court, but he claimed that Biden has not done that to date because his candidates would be "so far left they could never withstand public scrutiny."