It appears President Trump is close to naming former Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement to the U.S. Supreme Court.
After delivering a list of 21 possible candidates during his campaign, sources close to the selection process said that two names are left in the running, Denver-based U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch and U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania. Some sources report that Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit may still be under consideration.
Judge Hardiman has maintained a consistently conservative stance on “hot button issues,” most notably in gun cases. Judge Hardiman has shown a robust view of the Second Amendment. Fun Fact: Hardiman has a direct connection to the President as he serves on the same court as Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry.
Read more about Judge Hardiman here.
The other main candidate left, Neil Gorsuch, was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit by President George W. Bush in 2006. Many feel that this appointment, along with his similarities to Scalia in terms of legal writing, sets him up well to be appointed to the SCOTUS by a Republican president. His defense of religious liberties in Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius and Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Age v. Burwell as well as his pro-life views regarding assisted suicide help mark him as a “solid conservative.” Cases such as United States v. Games-Perez have given his opportunity to use his extensive knowledge and application of legislative history.
Read more about Judge Gorsuch here.
Judge Pryor’s name has been thrown around for Supreme Court vacancies every since he ascended to the federal bench in 2003. One of his most well-known actions as attorney general for Alabama was removing Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore after Moore refused to follow a federal court order to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the state’s Supreme Court building. Judge Pryor has spoken out against Roe v. Wade, and drawn much criticism for his position on abortion. He’s consistently ruled in the government’s favor in criminal cases. Although very conservative, Judge Pryor has voted to allow a transgender plaintiff to sue a State of Georgia office for firing her for her gender transition. Judge Pryor has also frequently voted for religious freedom.
Read more about Judge Pryor here.
A blog I follow recently highlighted excerpts from an article on The Hill that called for President-Elect Donald Trump to reform the criminal justice system in an effort to foster economic growth.
The article cited a Department of Justice study that report that as of 2006, about 68 million Americans carried a major or minor criminal record. Another DOJ study reports that job applicants with a criminal record may be paid up to 50% less than those without criminal convictions. Additionally, many can only find employment in “off-the-book” jobs. The author of The Hill post, Eric Sterling, proposed the idea that if criminal records continued to affect the salaries and job opportunities of former inmates, the American economy is experiencing a loss of 1/3 of its consumers because of “underearning”. Having a criminal record also affects one’s ability to be extended credit. According to Sterling, the housing marketing and car industry would be positively impacted by criminal justice reforms, with an increase of half a million homes and half a million cars sold annually. He also hypothesized that if criminal records for nonviolent crimes (i.e. adult marijuana use and growth) were to be eliminated, up to 600,000 Americans would have better job and purchasing prospects.
Sterling’s message to Trump appeals first to his campaign promises of economic growth and job preservation. Then, in his conclusion, Sterling asks Trump to consider a criminal record elimination like a bankruptcy, erasing convictions after five to seven years of “verifiable” good behavior. Sterling makes the final argument that, since bankruptcy is in the Constitution, this approach to criminal justice reform could revamp the lives of former convicts and significantly impact the American economy. As Trump is no stranger to bankruptcy in his business practices, hopefully the “bankruptcy” argument rings true and persuasive with his administration.
With November 8th just four days away, one of the most controversial (or at least most memorable and talked about) presidential races will soon produce the newest Commander-in-Chief for the United States. Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be inaugurated in January. Here are a few of their views on criminal justice reform that they proposed over their campaign:
On her official campaign website, Hillary Clinton pushes for unity between local police and community members to avoid concerns such as racial profiling and incarceration of nonviolent offenders. She plans to use funds to create and implement police training programs that teach the proper measures for using violent or nonviolent measures as well as adopting mental health initiatives for the nation’s police departments. She hopes to also reform mandatory minimum sentences, specifically for nonviolent offenders, in order to reduce their sentences by half, provide more rehabilitation options, and not allow these types of offenses to count as “strikes” on their records. She vows to end the privatization of prisons so they “may not contribute to over-incarceration.” Secretary Clinton also promises to “ban the box” for job applicants, invest $5 billion in job re-entry programs, and restore voting right to those who were previously incarcerated. She does not always support capital punishment, but seems to make exceptions in extreme cases such as the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh.
In interviews and televised debates, Donald Trump also conveys his opinions on various criminal reform issues. Particularly, he has recently highlighted the use of stop-and-frisk measures as a way to “take the guns away from bad people who shouldn’t have them,” discussing how effective New York City’s policies were despite the fact that the state eventually ruled the act unconstitutional. In terms of profiling, he has often said he would focus on the activities and country of origin of individuals, rather than racial or ethnically-based factors. He believes the stop-and-frisk will lead to the protection of inner-city and African American communities. In response to how he would “heal the racial divide,” he plans to use law and order through the state and federal police forces. Trump says that police experience the most mistreatment and misunderstanding of any workers in America, and he feels they are often too afraid to perform their jobs properly. However, he also believes in “weeding out the problems” of incompetent officers that would further bring division between police and the communities they protect. In addition, Donald Trump supports the death penalty and has been a very vocal proponent of it in years past.