Trump releases list of 20 new possible Supreme Court picks

FILE - In this June 29, 2020, file photo, the Supreme Court is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Donald Trump is preparing to release a list of potential Supreme Court nominees. It's a list that will give voters something to compare to rival Joe Bidens promise to nominate a Black woman to the high court if given the chance. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON – Hoping to replicate a strategy long seen as key to his appeal among conservative voters, President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he is adding 20 names to a list of Supreme Court candidates he's pledged to choose from if he has future vacancies to fill.

The list includes a trio of conservative Republican senators: Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri — all buzzed-about potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates — as well as Christopher Landau, the current ambassador to Mexico, and Noel Francisco, who argued 17 cases as the Trump administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer.

“Every one of these individuals will ensure equal justice, equal treatment and equal rights for citizens of every race, color, religion and creed," Trump said as he made his announcement at the White House.

Trump tried to cast the list in contrast with judges who could be nominated if his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, wins in November, warning Biden would select “radical justices” who would “fundamentally transform America without a single vote of Congress," even though Biden has never outlined his list of potential picks and the Senate must confirm any nominee.

The release, less than two months before the election, is aimed at repeating the strategy that Trump employed during his 2016 campaign, when he released a similar list of could-be judges in a bid to win over conservative and evangelical voters who had doubts about his conservative bonafides.

The list includes a number of people who have worked for Trump's administration, including Gregory Katsas, whom Trump nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Before that, Katsas served as a legal adviser on some of the president’s most contentious policies, including his executive orders restricting travel for citizens of predominantly Muslim countries and his decision to end a program protecting some young immigrants from deportation.

Francisco, the former solicitor general of the United States, also defended Trump’s travel ban, his unsuccessful push to add a citizenship question to the U.S. census and the decision to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects hundreds of thousands of young people from deportation. He also argued that a landmark civil rights law didn’t protect gay, lesbian and transgender people from employment discrimination, a position the court ruled against 6-3 earlier this year.

Also on the list is Daniel Cameron, the Kentucky Attorney General who is currently deciding whether to criminally charge three Louisville police officers in the March shooting death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician who was killed when officers entered her apartment with a no-knock warrant during a drug investigation.