by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Trump has received significant criticism, often justified, for shattering accepted norms of presidential behavior. But occasionally, his willingness to buck tradition has its benefits. His decision to release a shortlist of potential Supreme Court nominees is a prime example of an idea that should become the new standard for presidential candidates.
Trump released his list this week, adding 20 additional names to the Supreme Court shortlist he first unveiled in 2016. Just like four years ago, Trump is the only candidate to be so explicit about whom he would consider appointing to the high court. Democratic nominee Joe Biden has not yet released a list similar to Trump’s, even though liberal activists and establishment types have both encouraged him to do so.
But all Biden has said on the topic is that voters must stop Trump from filling another potential Supreme Court vacancy. When asked whether he would name individuals he thinks would be fit for the job, Biden said earlier this summer that his campaign was considering a number of African American women but that they would not say more until each candidate had been properly vetted.
Perhaps Biden thinks it is safer to avoid weighing in on judicial appointments, since doing so would inevitably further the ideological rift that exists between the Democratic Party’s left wing and its centrists. Or, maybe Biden is worried that releasing a Supreme Court shortlist would aggravate the culture war, thus pushing middle-of-the-road voters toward Trump.
But staying silent on this topic will not make it go away. The Supreme Court remains a top priority for a majority of voters, according to a recent survey. At least 64% of respondents said that future Supreme Court appointments are “very important” to their votes in this year’s election, Pew Research found.