My best guess for who Donald Trump will nominate to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court is Stephanie Dawkins Davis. She is a judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. I believe President Trump will choose her to fill the election-year vacancy for 10 reasons:
1) Davis is African American. That shouldn’t be hugely important, but this is 2020, year of George Floyd and riots and Black Lives Matter. In fact, Davis was the first African American female judge that Trump nominated, in 2019. She was a magistrate (administrative) judge at the time.
2) Davis is a woman. This one matters less with Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor as sitting justices, but it’s been a minute since a Republican nominated a woman to the Supreme Court and even longer since Republicans managed to get a woman all the way through the process. Sandra Day O’Connor was installed in 1981.
3) Davis is from Michigan. It’s a must win-state for Trump, and her nomination could help him win it. While Davis didn’t grow up in Michigan, her legal career has flourished there, first as a lawyer at a Detroit firm and then in the civil and criminal divisions of the local U.S. Attorney’s Office. She became a Magistrate Judge and then a United States District Court Judge out of Michigan. And she is married to Grant Davis, an executive at Ford Motor Company.
4) Davis is an America booster. In a really telling written exchange concerning her District Court nomination, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein questioned Davis’s remarks at a 2017 naturalization ceremony.
“You stated that immigrants come to the United States ‘to have the freedom to pursue [their] path to happiness without undue intrusion from the government.’ What do you believe would constitute ‘undue intrusion from the government’ on the rights and freedoms of immigrants?” Feinstein wrote.
Davis replied: “In referencing undue intrusion by the government, I was juxtaposing the freedoms enjoyed in the United States against the practices of the governments of some of the foreign countries from which the new citizens emigrated that restrict the freedoms of their citizens.”
5) Davis is fairly new to the district court game. Shorter judicial track records give senators and opposition researchers less material to work with. Fewer sane objections may cause Democrats to grasp at TNT, as they did in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.
6) Davis was approved unanimously by the Senate last year. In fact, she was so uncontroversial, she passed on a voice vote.
7) Davis was rubber-stamped by the American Bar Association. They called her well-qualified, again unanimously. No take-backs.
8) Davis recently struck down a stupid voter access law. As the threat of lawyers for months loom over the 2020 elections, it would be useful to have a new justice who takes voter fairness seriously, as Davis does.
This Michigan law was a draconian doozy. It criminalized taking people to polls unless they are infirm. Uber wasn’t even able to offer discounted rides for fear of running afoul of the statute. Which Davis sensibly drop-kicked into Lake Huron.
9) Davis seems stable. She’s been married for close to 30 years to Grant Davis, and they have three adult children.
10) Davis seems sensible. In their written exchange, Feinstein tried to bait Davis by misrepresenting earlier remarks and then posing a gotcha question. It backfired.
“You stated in your investiture remarks that you draw guidance from the Bible in carrying out your judicial duties. Will you commit to leaving all religious beliefs at the courthouse door when hearing cases, using only the Constitution and applicable governing laws in your decisions?” Feinstein asked.
“In my investiture remarks I noted that the book of Deuteronomy states, ‘You shall not distort justice. You shall not be partial. And you shall not take a bribe. Justice and only justice you shall pursue.’ The quote was included because it is consistent with the Judicial Canons to which I am already bound as a magistrate judge and with the law,” Davis wrote.
She continued, “I am nevertheless sensitive to the concern raised by this question and without reservation assure that I decide cases based only on the Constitution and applicable governing law. If confirmed as a district judge, I will continue to do so.”
One can only hope she’ll continue to do so on the Supreme Court as well.
Jeremy Lott should have been a lawyer.
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