CHARLESTON, S.C. — During Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, Donald Trump said that if he were to nominate a judge to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, he would consider Diane Sykes or Bill Pryor, the latter of which prosecuted “Ten Commandments Judge” Roy Moore.
“If I were president now, I would certainly want to try and nominate a justice. And I’m absolutely sure that president Obama will try and do it,” he said in light of Scalia’s sudden death Friday night. “I hope that our Senate, Mitch and the entire group, is going to be able to do something about it in terms of delay.”
“We could have a Diane Sykes or a Bill Pryor,” he added, providing examples of who he would nominate if he were president. “We have some fantastic people.”
Bill Pryor, the former attorney general of Alabama, prosecuted Roy Moore in 2003 over his refusal to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court. Pryor’s comments to Moore during his trial focused more on Moore’s refusal to stop acknowledging God as chief justice.
“[Y]our understanding is that the federal court ordered that you could not acknowledge God; isn’t that right?” Pryor asked. “And if you resume your duties as chief justice after this proceeding, you will continue to acknowledge God as you have testified that you would today?”
“That’s right,” Moore replied.
“No matter what any other official says?” Pryor asked.
“Absolutely,” Moore stated. “Let me clarify that. Without an acknowledgment of God, I cannot do my duties. I must acknowledge God. It says so in the Constitution of Alabama. It says so in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It says so in everything I have read.”
“The only point I am trying to clarify, Mr. Chief Justice, is not why, but only that, in fact, if you do resume your duties as chief justice, you will continue to do that without regard to what any other official says; isn’t that right?” Pryor asked.
As Moore continued to stand his ground, he was ordered by Pryor to be “removed from his position of Supreme Court justice of Alabama.” Moore was re-elected to serve as chief justice in 2012.
Wanda Skyes, Trump’s other selection, wrote the majority opinion in a 2013 case that barred the state of Indiana from defunding Planned Parenthood. She was nominated to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals by then-President George W. Bush.
“The defunding law excludes Planned Parenthood from Medicaid for a reason unrelated to its fitness to provide medical services, violating its patients’ statutory right to obtain medical care from the qualified provider of their choice,” Sykes wrote.
She then stressed the court’s belief in the “right” to abortion, and advised that the state must be careful to not indirectly limit access to abortion while simultaneously withholding taxpayer funds from known abortion providers.
“It is settled law that the government’s refusal to subsidize abortion does not impermissibly burden a woman’s right to obtain an abortion,” Sykes stated. “If a ban on public funding for abortion does not directly violate the abortion right, then Indiana’s ban on other forms of public subsidy for abortion providers cannot be an unconstitutional condition that indirectly violates the right.”
Trump has also stated in the past that his sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, who serves on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, would make a “phenomenal” Supreme Court justice. Barry has issued pro-abortion rulings, stating regarding a New Jersey law that “a woman’s constitutional right to obtain an abortion would be impermissibly chilled.”
“I think she’d be phenomenal,” Trump told Bloomberg in August. “I think she’d be one of the best. But frankly, we’d have to rule that out.”