President Trump on Wednesday released a list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court in the event of a vacancy, which included three current far right U.S. senators.
Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) were included on Trump’s list of 20 potential nominees.
Although not without precedent, it is rare for sitting members of the Senate to be nominated to the high court. The last member of Congress to receive the honor was Harold Burton, a Republican senator who was nominated by Democratic President Harry Truman in 1945.
It is unlikely that any of the three senators Trump named as potential Supreme Court nominees would get the same bipartisan support that Burton received, particularly because they are ardent opponents of reproductive rights.
Upon learning that he was included on Trump’s list, Hawley announced he was not interested in joining the Court. He said in a statement, however, that he was looking forward “to confirming constitutional conservatives” as a senator.
The other two senators seemed open to the idea of becoming justices. Cruz stated that he was “grateful for the president’s confidence in me and for his leadership in nominating principled constitutionalists to the federal bench.” Cotton suggested he would rule with a far right interpretation of the Constitution.
“The Supreme Court could use some more justices who understand the difference between applying the law and making the law, which the Court does when it invents a right to an abortion, infringes on religious freedom, and erodes the Second Amendment,” Cotton said in a statement on Twitter.
In a separate tweet from his personal account, Cotton reiterated his support for ending abortion rights.
“It’s time for Roe v. Wade to go,” Cotton wrote after being included on Trump’s list.
Individuals close to Trump seemed to acknowledge that the list was intended to help him win votes in the presidential race later this year, with one source calling it a “political statement as much as a working document.”
“You’re trying to create as many touch points as possible to people who you want to re-elect him as president, and energize them to help him get re-elected,” the source said to Axios.
Opposition to abortion also appeared to be a main selling point, as his campaign website, upon announcing the release of the list, used the issue as its first line of attack against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s potential nominees to the bench.
Reproductive rights and access to abortion are indeed contentious issues on the Supreme Court, with justices ruling in June against a restrictive abortion law in Louisiana.
The decision was a close one, however, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts joining the liberal liberal justices on the basis of stare decisis (a legal term that means ruling in alignment with similar decisions that have been made on the issue in the past) rather than endorsing their arguments on the right to seek and receive an abortion.
“We’re relieved that the Louisiana law has been blocked today but we’re concerned about tomorrow,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said at the time.