Who Will Trump Pick as His Supreme Court Nominee?

One expert has his eye on three promising candidates.

By Laura Rice & Michael MarksJanuary 31, 2017 2:15 pm

Tuesday at 7 p.m. CST, President Donald Trump will announce his nominee to replace the U.S. Supreme Court seat left vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia.

After former President Barack Obama’s nominee was voted down in an effort led by Senate Republicans, there is heavy speculation about who Trump’s pick will be and how much opposition he or she will face.

Adam Feldman runs the “Empirical SCOTUS” blog. He uses data analytic techniques to evaluate possible options – although he admits political science does not always have the answer.

Feldman says Trump’s best bet is U.S. Circuit Judge, Neil Gorsuch of Denver, Colo.

“He’s the most typical Supreme Court candidate,” Feldman says. “He’s known within circles that study the Supreme Court as somebody whose philosophy is akin to many of the conservatives on the court right now.”

Feldman and others also have their eye on U.S. Circuit Judge William Pryor of Georgia, who has close ties with Trump’s U.S. Attorney General nominee, Jeff Sessions. Pryor could face strong pushback in the Senate because of his opposition to Roe V. Wade, Feldman says.

“It’s somewhat unusual for somebody who’s nominated to the Supreme Court to have such outspoken views on issues that may come before the court,” Feldman says.

Rounding out the top three is U.S. Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman of Pittsburgh, Pa. A key detail about Hardiman is his connection to the president’s sister who is a judge in the same circuit.

“Within the last few days there’s been a lot of speculation that she’s been whispering in Trump’s ear,” Feldman says.

Feldman says Trump could potentially pick one of the three, but there’s always an opportunity for an anomaly.

“I don’t think anything is off the table at the moment,” Feldman says.

Written by Emma Whalen.