On Saturday morning, the president tweeted the following:
.@GOP We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2020
Later that day, he told a crowd of supporters in North Carolina that the pick would be in sometime this week. “It will be a woman — a very talented, very brilliant woman.”
President Trump’s selection process is made easier and more transparent by his unveiling of a list of potential Supreme Court nominees. The roster — originally released in May 2016 — has since been expanded upon three times, including earlier this month. The list continues to be a highly effective political tool for the president. During the previous general election, it consolidated support among Trump-skeptic conservatives for whom placing an originalist on the Court was a paramount goal.
Moreover, as John McGinnis observed in Law & Liberty, the President Trump’s list advanced public understanding. Former presidential candidates have typically touted their potential nominees with ambiguity. Never quite explicitly naming names, they spoke of “strict constructionists” or “judges with empathy.” Not so with Trump. Available for public vetting and consumption, the list was “representative of the kind of constitutional principles I value,” he said at the time. Think what you will of his substantive understanding of judicial philosophy, but the list mattered — and he’s stuck to it. As CNN notes, far from being a contingent gimmick, this has been a feature of the Trump campaign for years.
The same cannot — and will not — be said of Joe Biden. Just yesterday, Biden said that he does not intend to release any names for fear of subjecting them to political attacks, and because, if named, they may start ruling differently as a result. In effect, Biden’s position is that voters should pick the president, and the president should pick the justice; but that, as a presidential candidate, he will not give any clues as to his preference. In other words: “We need to wait until after the election so that the people can ratify my choices. And no, I won’t tell the people what those choices are.”