Mimesis Law
4 March 2021

From The POV Of CDLs, Who Are The Best, Worst & Most Likely On Trump’s List For SCOTUS?

November 23, 2016 (Fault Lines) — I am absolutely certain that the President-Elect wants to know what criminal defense lawyers think about his list of potential Supreme Court nominees.  So, I ask you, from the perspective of criminal defense lawyers, who is the best and who is the worst from Trump’s list.  Tell me also who will likely be the pick.


Here they are with Wiki links to their backgrounds:

  1. Keith Blackwell
  1. Charles Canady
  1. Steven Colloton
  1. Allison Eid
  1. Neil Gorsuch
  1. Raymond Gruender
  1. Thomas Hardiman
  1. Raymond Kethledge
  1. Joan Larsen
  1. Mike Lee
  1. Thomas Lee
  1. Edward Mansfield
  1. Federico Moreno
  1. William Pryor
  1. Margaret A. Ryan
  1. Amul Thapar
  1. Timothy Tymkovich
  1. David Stras
  1. Diane Sykes
  1. Don Willett
  1. Robert Young

Again, from the perspective of a CDL, who is best, worst and most likely?  Remember, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain!*

Richard G. Kopf
Senior United States District Judge (Nebraska)

*Mean-ass editor excepted.


13 Comments on this post.

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  • Clem for the Defense
    23 November 2016 at 8:50 am - Reply

    I was alarmed to see Canady at No.2 until I realized the list is alphabetical. His taste of crime & punishment as a House prosecutor in the Clinton impeachment led to a gig on the Florida Supreme Court. There he has been a reliable vote for the state in criminal cases. Except for that time he wrote a nice concurrence in one of my cases on a sentencing issue. He scowls a
    lot from the bench, but I think that’s just his normal face.

    • Richard Kopf
      23 November 2016 at 10:57 am - Reply

      Clem for the Defense,

      Thanks for playing Scotus roulette. If I were a bookie, I would say don’t bet on Canady.

      One, he is two old at 62. Two, he went to Yale law school–and I Trump judge pickers don’t want anyone from Harvard or Yale. Three, the judge is too close to Jeb (serving as Jeb’s former general counsel) and, what is worse, he was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court by Crist, the ultimate turncoat. Fourth, my guess is that Canady got on the list because he coined the term “partial-birth abortion” when he was in the House. All in all, Canady’s inclusion on the list is the equivalent of awarding him the Order of the Lenin.

      So,not to worry. All the best.


  • Anon
    23 November 2016 at 9:19 am - Reply

    Most likely: Judge Thomas Hardiman. Four reasons. (1) solid conservative; (2) youth, (at 51 a veritable child); (3) Third Circuit ( remember, our President-elect’s sister sits on the Third Circuit); (4) this one’s the clincher, I argued before this judge about five years ago, he called the tortured procedural history of the case “Kafkaesque” (it was), so I’m sold. Also, I argued before Justice Sotomayor when she sat on the Second. That’s the charm, so I’m convinced Judge Hardiman is it! Put your money on him, depend upon it.

    Best pick: Judge Hardiman is smart, cordial, and cuts to the quick without sarcasm. So, I’ll go with him, with one exception, my dark horse candidate below.

    Worst pick: I’ll reserve judgment.

    Dark horse: That judge from Nebraska who told SCOTUS to STFU. President-elect Trump likes that. He likes that kind of style a lot! Yes, President-elect Trump has said his selection will be a pro-life judge, but what’s that mean anyway? President-elect Trump also said that he would have put Secretary Clinton in jail, and would appoint a special prosecutor if elected, now he says she’s suffered enough. The only concern President-elect Trump may have with that Nebraska judge is the 450 or so page decisions he writes from time to time. If he could cut it down, to say 5-7 pages, he’d move up on the list. Could easily happen. Justice Rehnquist put the gold stripes on his robe, as a nod to the Faerie Queen, start thinking seriously about what you’ll do to customize the robe. That’s very important so give it some thought.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Anon
      23 November 2016 at 9:41 am - Reply

      Correction, the gold stripes were fromthe Fairy Queen in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe.

    • Anon
      23 November 2016 at 9:51 am - Reply

      On second thought, Judge Kethledge would be my worst pick. Very smart, young, but I found him somewhat smug and a tad sarcastic at oral argument. Anecdotal, a one time incident, but there it is. But I never hold it against anyone when they direct the sarcasm at me, never. I just want to make that point perfectly clear in the interests of fair play and full disclosure. 😎

      23 November 2016 at 9:24 pm - Reply


      I appreciate your kind words. By the way, I don’t wear gold stripes, but am fascinating by the possibility of wearing creepy clown regalia.

      As for a dark horse with a realistic chance, consider Judge David Stras:

      1. is 42;

      2. clerked for two circuit judges including conservative darling J. Michael Luttig;

      3. clerked for Justice Thomas;

      4. all degrees (BA, MBA,and JD) from the University of Kansas;

      5. law professor at University of Minnesota law school;

      6. sitting Minnesota Supreme Court Justice appointed by Governor Tim Pawlenty.

      All the best.


  • Mark W. Bennett
    23 November 2016 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    You go first 🙂

      23 November 2016 at 2:07 pm - Reply


      I will tell you the name of the person who I think is the most likely nominee. His name is Bill Pryor.

      William Holcombe “Bill” Pryor Jr. is a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and a Commissioner on the United States Sentencing Commission (put there by President Obama). Professor Berman of SL&P was enthusiastic about the choice of Pryor for the Commission. http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2013/04/prez-obama-makes-three-great-new-nominations-to-the-us-sentencing-commission.html

      Pryor is about the right age. He is 54.

      Pryor served as a law clerk to the legal giant Judge John Minor Wisdom of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit from 1987 to 1988. He earned his B.A. from Northeast Louisiana University in 1984 (now University of Louisiana, Monroe) and his J.D. from Tulane University Law School in 1987, where he served as editor in chief of the Tulane Law Review. No snotty Yale or Harvard grad he.

      Pryor was Alabama’s AG. He prosecuted Chief Justice Roy Moore for Moore’s Ten Commandments monument and Pryor won. He successfully argued that Moore was required to follow the ruling of a federal judge.

      Pryor has said that Roe v. Wade was the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law.” On that, he is correct (poor Harry). Even Justice Ginsburg questions whether the Court should have gotten involved at that point in our history. It goes without saying, I hope, that I think Roe v. Wade was wonderful policy but it was horribly reasoned Constitutional law.

      All the best.


      PS. It is your turn now!

  • Greg Prickett
    23 November 2016 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    Blackwell was a prosecutor, so should be out. There are already too many exceptions to the Fourth already, and prosecutors always want more.

    Hardiman wrote opinions that failed to support the First Amendment (right to videotape public officials) and the Second Amendment (restricting the right to get a carry license). Not good.

    Moreno is a trial judge, which SCOTUS sorely needs. A bit old.

    Pryor acceptable.

    There are still no American Indian lawyers or judges being considered for the Court. There are no criminal defense attorneys.

      23 November 2016 at 2:10 pm - Reply


      See my comment above about Pryor. All the best.


      • Greg Prickett
        26 November 2016 at 11:44 pm - Reply

        The best thing about Pryor is his position on Ala. CJ Moore during the Ten Commandments fiasco. He didn’t agree with the decision to remove the Ten Commandments (he was wrong, BTW), but he was not going to tolerate Moore flaunting the rule of law.

        I agree with your position on Roe, terrible analysis of the Constitution, but the right policy.

        My actual choice would be Stacy Leeds, 45, currently the dean of the U. of Arkansas law school, member of the Cherokee Nation, former CJ of the Cherokee Supreme Court. BA – Washington U. in St. Louis, MBA – Tennessee, JD – Tulsa, LLM – Wisconsin. But she’s not going to be nominated, and especially not by Trump.

        • Richard Kopf
          27 November 2016 at 8:03 pm - Reply


          I do not mean to be too personal. But your comment and in other writings you have expressed an affection for Native Americans. Aside from being a good guy, and aside from our horrible treatment of them,what accounts for your affection and concern? All the best.


          • Greg Prickett
            28 November 2016 at 6:03 pm -


            I’m part Menominee, possibly part Ojibwa, and also have a minuscule amount of Choctaw blood. My dad was born in Indian County, and was considered Indian for hiring purposes by the feds (under the clause of being any degree of Indian descent and being born on the rez). My granddad was taken from Wisconsin and sent to an Indian School in Douglas, Kansas, and then was sent to the Kiowa Agency in Oklahoma to work for the Indian Service. I have distant cousins that are members of either the Menominee tribe or the Grand Traverse Band of Chippewa.

            Although I don’t have enough blood to be enrolled in any of the tribes, I was raised going to pow-wows, with dad explaining our heritage and background. Being from Oklahoma helped too. We rooted for the Indians in the cowboy westerns, too. It was during the time that I was growing up that the federal government tried to terminate the tribal status of the Menominee – a disaster that was overturned by President Nixon.

            As a lawyer, I’m acutely aware of the continuing legal discrimination against tribal sovereignty and against Indians. Indian women are more likely to be sexually assaulted with no prosecution by the U.S. Attorney, and the tribal courts can’t prosecute unless the suspect is also Indian. The Major Crimes Act took away the ability of the tribe to handle it’s own criminals and the state and federal governments just don’t care about it.

            As far as judges? There have only been three Indians who have sat on the federal bench, and only one is currently sitting. One of the three did not even know that he was Indian until after he was on the bench. All have been district judges. There have been no federal appellate judges who are Indian.