Ramaswamy Looks to Supreme Court in Effort to Appeal to Conservatives


The long-shot Republican presidential candidate is releasing a list of potential justices to highlight his bona fides with key voters.

Vivek Ramsawamy, an entrepreneur running for the Republican presidential nomination, on Monday will release a list of potential choices for the U.S. Supreme Court, in an effort to highlight his conservative credentials to early-state voters who may be skeptical of a candidate without a political background.

The move echoes one made by Donald J. Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign, at a time when he was still facing questions from Republican voters about his past as a Democrat from New York who had once supported abortion rights and had appeared more moderate on certain issues.

Mr. Ramaswamy’s list, reported earlier by Axios, includes jurists who have ruled on various aspects of the Republican culture wars, including religious issues, free speech, vaccine mandates and transgender rights. In a statement, Mr. Ramaswamy sought to contrast his approach to that of President Biden, who vowed during his campaign to appoint the first Black woman to the highest court, which he did when he nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson. Mr. Ramaswamy dismissed that move as “purely skin-deep diversity.”

“What each of the individuals I would appoint share is their unwavering dedication to the principles of originalism and commitment to a constitutionalist judicial philosophy,” Mr. Ramaswamy said. “Our courts are the last line of defense against an administrative state that rules by fiat, legislates from the bench, stifling freedom and truth.”

Mr. Ramaswamy said he, his staff and what aides describe as “third-party organizations” went over all the writings and decisions of the nine judges on his list, focusing on originalism — the judicial philosophy that relies on the words of the Constitution when it was written as opposed to an interpretation based on current views — and a “commitment to a constitutionalist judicial philosophy.”

Mr. Ramaswamy is polling well behind Mr. Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida in national surveys and early-state polls. But Mr. Ramaswamy has devoted extensive time to Iowa, where his list of judges for a potential open Supreme Court seat could matter.

His list includes Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas. Mr. Lee was on Mr. Trump’s initial list in 2016. Mr. Cruz has been mentioned on lists of prospective conservative jurists, but his decision to object to certifying the 2020 election’s Electoral College outcome would raise hackles among Democrats, who may cite other objections as well.

Judge James Ho, who serves on the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which includes Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, is also on the list. A member of the conservative Federalist Society and a former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, Judge Ho has been a vocal opponent of the right to an abortion.

Another jurist, Judge Lawrence Van Dyke of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, was nominated for that position by Mr. Trump in 2019. At the time, the American Bar Association said in a letter that it had concerns that he would not be fair to L.G.B.T.Q. people.

Others on the list include Judge Lisa Branch, a member of the Federalist Society who sits on the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit; Paul D. Clement, a former solicitor general; Judge Thomas M. Hardiman of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, who was on Mr. Trump’s initial short list to replace Justice Antonin Scalia; Judge Justin R. Walker of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; and Judge John K. Bush of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.


Leave a Reply