By Lydia Wheeler and Jordan Fabian
President Trump on Monday released his first batch of judicial nominees as he seeks to make his mark on the federal court system.
Trump is nominating 10 judges, including two candidates he had previously floated for the Supreme Court, Joan Larsen and David Straus.
Larsen, a judge on the Michigan Supreme Court, is being nominated for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, while Straus, a judge on the Minnesota Supreme Court, has been tapped for the 8th Circuit.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the nominees were “chosen for their deep knowledge of the law” and their commitment to upholding constitutional principles.
The White House says more judicial nominees will be coming in the months ahead as the administration works to fill the more than 120 vacancies in the lower courts.
Conservatives praised Trump’s choices.
“President Trump is building on the success of his nomination of Justice Gorsuch with an outstanding new slate of nominees for the lower federal courts,” said Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director for the Judicial Crisis Network.
“The nominees have stellar qualifications and a record of courageous commitment to the rule of law that will make them excellent additions to the federal bench. When it comes to fulfilling his campaign promise to appoint strong, principled judges, Trump is knocking it out of the park.”
Elizabeth Slattery, a legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said the nominees are in line with the kind of judges Trump said he’d nominate — originalist, textualist judges who will be faithful to the Constitution and not interpret it as though they are legislators.
Liberal court watchers, meanwhile, expressed reservations with what they called “ultraconservative” nominees.
“Packing the federal courts with judges whose records suggest they want to weaken critical constitutional rights and legal protections would undermine the Constitution’s promise of equal justice for all, and cause serious harm to millions of Americans,” said Nan Aron, founder and president of the Alliance for Justice.
“We will be scrutinizing all of the nominees’ records carefully and urge senators to do the same.”
Trump had one judicial nominee pending before Monday. Amul Thapar, of the federal District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, is still waiting for the Senate to confirm him to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.