President Donald Trump will press forward Monday with his effort to shift the nation’s judiciary to the right by announcing five conservative nominees to federal appeals courts, according to a person familiar with the plans. Among them is Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras.
The move follows the confirmation last month of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first pick to the high court. The appeals court selections were described by the person on condition of anonymity.
Many of the appellate nominees to be announced Monday have deep ties to the conservative Federalist Society. Two had been on a Trump campaign list of 21 potential Supreme Court nominees compiled with the help of the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.
Three of the five are former law clerks for either Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia or Justice Clarence Thomas, who for a quarter century were the two most conservative justices. The New York Times reported on Trump’s planned court selections earlier.
The two from the list are Justice Joan Larsen, a former Scalia clerk who now sits on the Michigan Supreme Court, and Stras, a former Thomas clerk. Larsen will be nominated for the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and Stras to the St. Louis-based 8th Circuit.
Larsen is a rising star in conservative legal circles. She graduated first in her class from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, served in President George W. Bush’s Justice Department and taught at the University of Michigan Law School.
Among the others are Amy Barrett, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and former Scalia law clerk, to the Chicago-based 7th Circuit; John Bush, an attorney in Louisville, Kentucky, to the 6th Circuit; and Kevin Newsom, an attorney in Birmingham, Alabama, and a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice David Souter, to the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit.
Trump has already made one federal appeals court nomination, selecting federal district judge Amul Thapar for a seat on the 6th Circuit. Thapar had been in the mix for the Supreme Court vacancy, interviewing with Trump by phone before the president selected Gorsuch to fill the seat left vacant by Scalia’s death last year.