Eight of the 37 Trump judges on the federal courts of appeals are also on Trump’s “short list” from which, he has stated, he will select any future Supreme Court justices. The opinions written or joined by these eight Trump judges are very troubling, and it would raise serious concerns if any of these judges receive a Supreme Court nomination. Each such opinion is discussed briefly below, with a link to the more detailed explanation in the Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears report.
Don Willett, 5th Circuit
- Along with Trump judges Ho, Engelhardt, and Oldham, Willett voted to allow a devastating Louisiana anti-choice law to take effect, a decision that was temporarily reversed by a 5-4 Supreme Court vote in which Gorsuch and Kavanaugh dissented.
- Willett cast the deciding vote to give Trump the power to fire the head of an independent housing finance agency set up by Congress.
- Willett cast the deciding vote to affirm a longer prison term for an immigrant, despite a finding of plain error and a dissent by a Bush appointee.
- Along with Trump judges Ho, Duncan, and Engelhardt, Willett strongly urged reconsideration of a ruling that upheld a federal gun safety law.
- Along with Trump judge Ho, Willett voted to excuse a police department’s decision to conceal evidence and to reverse a damages verdict for a falsely imprisoned innocent man.
Amul Thapar and Joan Larsen, 6th Circuit
- Along with Trump judges Bush and Nalbandian, Judges Thapar and Larsen cast deciding votes to uphold Ohio’s law barring funding to Planned Parenthood for health care because it provides abortions with non-state funds.
- Thapar and Larsen affirmed enhanced sentences despite the dissent’s demonstration that the sentences were “substantively unreasonable.”
- Along with Trump judge Nalbandian, Thapar ruled that there was no remedy for a deputy’s unconstitutional violation of a homeowner’s privacy rights.
- Along with Trump judge Bush, Thapar refused to permit brothers to present to a jury the claim that deliberate indifference contributed to a third brother’s death in prison.
- Thapar voted in dissent to make it easier to get away with sex discrimination.
- Thapar tried in dissent to excuse a lawyer who failed to advise a permanent resident about the deportation risk of a guilty plea.
- Thapar tried to favor a religious school and harm a small municipality in a dissent in a zoning case.
- Thapar voted to allow public officials to lead Christian-only prayer at public meetings.
- Thapar voted to allow Ohio to resume executing prisoners via a three-drug cocktail described as causing “serious” pain and suffering.
- Thapar tried in dissent to reduce homeowners’ protections against invasion of privacy.
- Larsen wrote a divided ruling that dismissed citizens groups’ petitions to review air pollution permits without even reviewing the merits of their claims.
- Larsen tried to block a fired whistleblower from taking her case to court.
- Larsen tried to rule in dissent for an insurance company against a mother who was improperly denied insurance benefits. Thapar and two other Trump judges then joined Larsen in trying to get the full Sixth Circuit to rehear the case, which it refused.
Amy Coney Barrett, 7th Circuit
- Along with Trump judges Brennan, Scudder, and St. Eve, Judge Barrett cast a deciding vote to rule that older workers cannot claim that an employer’s hiring practices have a discriminatory impact on them, despite federal law.
- Barrett voted to allow a corporation to racially segregate its workplaces.
- Barrett wrote a decision upholding the denial of a visa to the wife of a U.S. citizen, despite a strong dissent by a Reagan-appointed judge who pointed out that the opinion ignored the principle that “Congress has given the judiciary the obligation to curb arbitrary action” with “no exception for the action of consular officials.”
- Barrett wrote a ruling that threw out a claim of unfair arbitration despite a dissent by a Reagan-appointed judge explaining that her opinion violated “established practice, grounded in well-settled case law across the Nation.”
- Barrett tried in dissent to partly overturn a federal law that bans people convicted of felonies from possessing firearms.
- Along with Trump judges St. Eve and Scudder, Barrett voted to uphold the deprivation of the right to counsel when a defendant was questioned by a judge without his lawyer.
- Barrett voted in dissent to deny post-conviction relief to a person convicted even though the prosecutor hid the hypnosis of a key witness in the case.
David Stras, 8th Circuit
- Stras wrote a divided opinion dismissing an asylum claim despite evidence of “a material worsening of the risk of persecution” the refugee would face if she was returned to Ethiopia.
- Stras tried to strike down a lobbying registration and disclosure law as applied to an unpaid lobbyist despite a majority decision by two other Republican-appointed judges.
- Stras wrote a divided decision depriving an individual of a hearing on whether he received ineffective assistance of counsel.
- Along with Trump judges Grasz and Erickson, Judge Stras cast a deciding vote to deny full court rehearing on the constitutionality of Missouri’s method of execution as applied to a prisoner with a severe medical condition.
- Stras and Grasz joined a full court opinion that reversed prior rulings and dismissed a deputy’s claim that he had been improperly fired by his boss for statements made in a political campaign.
Allison Eid, 10th Circuit
- Eid joined a decision denying rehearing of a claim that people were kept in jail for long periods without arraignment in violation of due process, despite a dissent joined by the Republican-appointed chief judge.
- Eid agreed that evidence was improperly seized, but argued in dissent that police should get another chance to justify their conduct.
- Eid dissented from an order joined by the Republican-appointed chief judge of the court to exclude government expert testimony because of failure to provide proper notice.
Kevin Newsom and Britt Grant, 11th Circuit
- Grant joined an opinion for the full court written by Newsom that made it much harder for victims of illegal job discrimination to prove their case when there is no evidence of intentional discrimination. The dissent explained that the opinion “drops an anvil on the employer’s side” of such cases.
- Newsom voted against full court review of a decision rejecting a claim that federal law prohibits anti-gay discrimination based on a 40-year old appellate court ruling later undercut by the Supreme Court.
- Newsom wrote a divided ruling giving a consumer’s car to a corporation despite a declaration of bankruptcy.
- Newsom wrote an opinion strongly suggesting that Supreme Court precedent that prevents the government from endorsing religion should be overruled.
- Newsom cast the deciding vote to throw out a claim of inhumane prison conditions, including being “forced to walk barefoot in cells covered with virtually every type of bodily waste.”
- Newsom wrote or joined several decisions rejecting claims of overly harsh criminal sentencing despite strong dissents.
- Newsom wrote a divided ruling upholding a felony criminal conviction even though the prosecution had failed to prove a key element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.