These next five potential nominees include the only non-judge on the list – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and the only District Court or non-appellate level judge on the list – Federico Moreno of the Southern District of Florida. My gut feeling is that only Sen. Mike Lee might make the short list if President Trump rolls the dice and takes the chance that a few Democrats will support one of their own colleagues.
One thing I have noticed is that both Joan Larsen and Mike Lee were associates at Sidley Austin at the same time period that our favorite 2A attorney, Alan Gura, was an associate there.
Joan L. Larsen
49 y.o., married to Adam Pritchard who is a professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School, and has two children.
Judge, 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Nominated by Pres. Donald Trump and confirmed Nov. 1, 2017.
University of Northern Iowa, B.A., Summa Cum Laude, 1990
Northwestern University School of Law, J.D., 1st in class, 1993
Judge David B. Sentelle, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 1993-1994
Justice Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court of the United State, 1994-1995
Associate, Sidley Austin LLP, Washington, DC, 1995-1997
Visiting Asst Prof., Northwestern University School of Law, 1998
Visiting Prof of Law, University of Michigan School of Law, 1998-2001
Dep. Asst. Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, US Department of Justice, 2002-2003
Lecturer in Law & Adjunct Prof., University of Michigan School of Law, 2003-present
Visiting Asst Prof., University of Iowa School of Law, 2006
Associate Justice, Michigan Supreme Court, 2015-2017
Of Propensity, Prejudice, and Plain Meaning: The Accused’s Use of Exculpatory Specific Acts Evidence and the Need to Amend Rule 404(b), 87 Nw. U. L. Rev. 651 (1993)
One Person One Office: Separation of Powers or Separation of Personnel, 79 Cornell L. Rev. 1045 (1993-1994)
Constitutionalism without Courts, 94 Nw. U. L. Rev. 983 (2000)
Importing Constitutional Norms from a Wider Civilization: Lawrence and the Rehnquist Court’s Use of Foreign and International Law in Domestic Constitutional Interpretation, 65 Ohio St. L.J. 1283 (2004)
Ancient Juries and Modern Judges: Originalism’s Uneasy Relationship with the Jury, 71 Ohio St. L.J 959 (2010)
Incompatibility Clause in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, 2nd Ed. (2014)
For a review of her judicial decisions, see this the blog post from The Vetting Room and this profile from the SCOTUSBlog. Her record on the Michigan Supreme Court tends to be conservative but has voted with the more liberal justices. Since Larsen has been on the 6th Circuit, she participated in eight cases with a published opinion and 28 cases with an unpublished opinion. The cases involved a variety of criminal issues, disability cases, immigration appeals, and financial transactions. None involved any issue concerning the Second Amendment.
The opposition from the Alliance for Justice is centered on Larsen’s scholarship and her time with the Office of Legal Counsel. They accuse Larsen of siding with the wealthy and powerful over the rights of workers while on the 6th Circuit. Interestingly, they ignore a case where she found for a union instead of the non-union worker along with another case where she found the administrative law judge had improperly denied disability benefits. I’d say they engaged in cherry-picking to come to their conclusion. People for the American Way (sic) say in a letter opposing Larsen when she was nominated for the 6th Circuit accused her of being someone who would “diminish the rights of ordinary Americans and enable dangerous abuses of power by the president.”
Michael S. “Mike” Lee
47 y.o., married to Sharon Burr Lee, and has three children. Mormon. His father, Rex Lee, was US Solicitor General during the Reagan Administration and later was the 10th President of BYU. Is the younger brother of Thomas R. Lee. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) is a second cousin.
United State Senator representing Utah. First elected in 2010.
:Brigham Young University, BA, 1994
Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark School of Law, JD, 1997
Judge Dee Benson, US District Court for the District of Utah, 1997-1998
Justice Samuel Alito, Supreme Court of the United States, 1998-1999
Associate, Sidley Austin, Washington, DC, 1999-2002
Asst. US Attorney, District of Utah, 2002-2005
General Counsel, Office of Gov. Jon Huntsman, Salt Lake City, UT, 2005-2006
Partner, Howrey LLP, Salt Lake City,UT, 2006-2010
The Freedom Agenda: Why a Balanced Budget Amendment is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government (2011)
Why John Roberts Was Wrong About Healthcare: A Conservative Critique of The Supreme Court’s Obamacare Ruling (2013)
Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document (2015)
Written Out of History: The Forgotten Founders Who Fought Big Government (2017)
The National Review said if Mike Lee was picked he would be hard to “Bork” as he has a long record of bipartisanship. He has co-sponsored bills with 36 out of the 49 sitting Democrats in the Senate including Chuck Schumer, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Dick Durbin, and Elizabeth Warren. If selected, Lee would be the 16th senator to sit on the Supreme Court and the first since Hugo Black. Lee has a solid conservative record from all the usual sources which upsets the opposition. The Alliance for Justice says, “Senator Lee’s views of the Constitution are radically conservative, even when compared with the record of his former boss Justice Alito. Like D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown, Lee is part of a movement of the wealthy and powerful to restore the “Lochner era” and use the Constitution as pretext to roll back progress made on economic and social rights throughout the 20th century.”
Thomas R. Lee
53 y.o., married to Kimberly Lee, and has six children. Mormon. His father, Rex Lee, was US Solicitor General during the Reagan Administration and later was the 10th President of BYU. Is the younger brother of Sen. Mike Lee. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) is a second cousin.
Associate Chief Justice, Utah Supreme Court. Appointed to the court by Gov. Gary Herbert in 2010.
Brigham Young University, BA Summa Cum Laude, 1988
University of Chicago Law School, JD, 1991
Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, 1991-1992
Justice Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court of the United States, 1994-1995
Shareholder, Kimball, Parr, Waddoups, Brown & Gee, Salt Lake City, UT, 1995-1997
Of Counsel, Howard Phillips & Andersen, Salt Lake City, UT, 1997-2004, 2005-2010
Rex and Maureen Rawlinson Professor of Law, Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark School of Law, 1997-2010 (on leave 2004-2005)
Dep. Asst. Attorney General, Civil Division, US Department of Justice, 2004-2005
Distinguished Lecturer, Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark School of Law, 2010- Present
Comment: The Standing of Qui Tam Relators Under the False Claims Act, 57 U.Chi. L.Rev. 542 (1990)
Pleading and Proof: The Economics of Legal Burdens, 1997 BYU L. Rev. 1 (1997)
Stare Decisis in Historical Perspective: From the Founding Era to the Rehnquist Court, 52 Vand. L. Rev. 647 (1999)
Stare Decisis in Economic Perspective: An Economic Analysis of the Supreme Court’s Doctrine of Precedent, 78 N.C. L. Rev. 643 (2000)
In Rem Jurisdiction in Cyberspace, 75 Wash. L. Rev 97 (2000)
The Anastasoff Case and the Judicial Power to “Unpublish” Opinions, 77 Notre Dame L.Rev. 135 (2001)
Preliminary Injunctions and the Status Quo, 58 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 109 (2001)
The Original Understanding of the Census Clause: Statistical Estimates and the Constitutional Requirement of an ‘Actual Enumeration’, 77 Wash. L. Rev. 1 (2001)
“To Promote the Progress of Science”: The Copyright Clause and Congress’s Power to Extend Copyrights (with Orrin Hatch), 16 Harv. J.L. & Tech. 1 (2002)
Demystifying Dilution, 84 B.U. L. Rev. 859 (2004)
Abercrombie Unveiled: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis of Trademark Distinctiveness, Working Draft, SSRN 1319409 (2008)
Sophistication, Bridging the Gap, and the Likelihood of Confusion: An Empirical and Theoretical Analysis, https://ssrn.com/abstract=1319188, (2008)
Trademarks, Consumer Psychology, and the Sophisticated Consumer, 57 Emory L.J. 575 (2008)
Judicial Activism, Restraint, & the Rule of Law, 26 Utah Bar J. 12 (2013)
Corpus Linguistics & Original Public Meaning: A New Tool To Make Originalism More Empirical (with Stephen C. Mouritsen), 126 Yale L.J. Forum 21 (2016)
Judging Ordinary Meaning, 127 Yale L.J. 788 (2018)
Data-Driven Originalism, U. Pa. L. Rev. (forthcoming)
With regard to Lee and the Second Amendment, the SCOTUSBlog had this to say:
During Lee’s time on the Utah Supreme Court, he has had only few cases dealing, albeit indirectly, with the rights of gun owners, and it is difficult to glean much about his position on the scope of the Second Amendment from those cases. The case most directly on point is Herland v. Izatt, a 2015 lawsuit against a gun owner who allowed an intoxicated woman to hold his loaded handgun. The woman then accidentally, but fatally, shot herself in the head. Lee joined the other members of his court in holding that the lawsuit could go forward. The court, in an opinion by Chief Justice Matthew Durrant, acknowledged that the “right to bear arms is enshrined in both the United States and Utah Constitutions. But with that right,” the court continued, “comes responsibilities,” and the state legislature has placed some restrictions on gun use and ownership – for example, by enacting a bar on supplying guns to children and people with mental illnesses. For that reason, the court concluded, gun owners have a duty “to exercise reasonable care in supplying their guns to intoxicated individuals.” However, the court cautioned, that duty “does not mean that” gun owners “will necessarily be liable for damages when those individuals injure themselves, because in most cases the intoxicated individual’s negligence will likely exceed that of the gun owner as a matter of comparative negligence.”
Lee also takes a narrow view of the deference courts should give to agency interpretations of laws and regulations. He said that the courts have the prerogative of interpreting the law. Lee is also a very strong originalist.
Last year when President Trump was deciding on the replacement for Justice Scalia, a group of academics did an empirical study as to which potential nominee would be the closest to Scalia in judicial philosophy. They said it was Lee. If you look at his body of scholarship above, I think you can see why. The SCOTUSBlog said Lee had a “storied legal background”. As to opposition, the Alliance for Justice, not surprisingly, thinks he’s a bad choice based on Utah Supreme Court decision dealing with reproductive rights, criminal justice, employee rights, and the environment. I’m surprised they didn’t go after him for just being a Mormon.
Edward M. Mansfield
61 y.o., married to Elizabeth Hall-Mansfield, and has three children.
Associate Justice, Supreme Court of Iowa. Appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad in 2011 to replace a justice recalled by Iowa voters. Returned to the court by voters in 2012.
Harvard University, AB, 1978
Yale University Law School, JD, 1982
Judge Patrick Higginbotham, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, 1982-1983
Private Practice, undisclosed law firm, Phoenix, AZ, 1983-1996
Partner, Belin McCormick, Des Moines, IA, 1996-2009
Iowa Court of Appeals, 2009-2011
Adjunct Prof of Law, Drake University, 1997 – present.
To my knowledge, Mansfield has not ruled on a gun rights case. He did rule in 2015 against the Iowa State Patrol in an asset forfeiture case and remanded the case back to district court. The person involved did get his money returned. His perhaps most controversial case involved a dentist firing an assistant for being “too attractive”. The dentist fired the assistant when his wife learned the two, both married, were texting back and forth after hours and demanded she be fired. He found that the assistant had not been fired because of her gender but to save his marriage. There was no claim of a hostile work environment or sexual harassment. Mansfield said they weren’t asked to determine if the dentist treated the assistant badly in firing her but only whether it was unlawful sexual discrimination and it wasn’t under Iowa or Federal law. Mansfield dissented in a case this past Friday where the Iowas Supreme Court struck down a law that required a mandatory 72 hour waiting period before having an abortion.
There seems to be no real opposition to Mansfield by the Alliance for Justice. I’m guessing that they don’t consider him to be that likely to be picked by Pres. Trump.
66 y.o, married to Maria Cristina Morales, and has three children. His daughter Christina is an Asst US Attorney in the Southern District of Florida. Moreno was born in Caracas, Venezuela. Catholic.
Judge, US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Nominated by Pres. George H.W. Bush and confirmed July 16, 1990.
University of Notre Dame, B.A., 1974
University of Miami School of Law, J.D., 1978
Private practice, Miami, Florida, 1978-1979
Assistant federal public defender, Southern District of Florida, 1979-1981
Private practice, Miami, Florida, 1982-1986
Judge, Dade County [Florida] Court, 1986-1987
Judge, Circuit Court of Florida, Eleventh Judicial Circuit, 1987-1990
Moreno has heard more that 5,000 cases in his time on the bench. One of his most notable ones involved ruling against the Coast Guard who had returned 15 refugees to Cuba under the “wet foot-dry foot” policy. The 15 were found standing on the piling of a former bridge in the Florida Keys. The USCG and the government argued that the pilings were “rooted in the water” and not part of Florida. Moreno disagreed and ordered the government to do what was necessary to allow these 15 to return to the US as refugees. As to Second Amendment cases, I really didn’t find any.
The Alliance for Justice doesn’t seem to be overly concerned about Judge Moreno. I believe his age – 66 – and his position as a District Court judge make it highly unlikely that he’ll make the final short list.