President-elect Donald Trump met with Judge William Pryor of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a lead contender for his first appointment to the Supreme Court, at Trump Tower late Saturday.
Above the Law’s David Lat broke news of the Pryor meeting.
Trump told reporters Wednesday that he expects to name a nominee to the high court in late January, during the second week of his administration. He also confirmed he has met with a number of candidates from the list of potential nominees he released during the campaign. Given that timeframe, and the fact Pryor is widely considered a frontrunner for the appointment, the Saturday meeting suggests Trump is in the final stages of the selection process.
Pryor’s strident conservatism made his appointment to the bench by President George W. Bush a years-long battle. During his career in Alabama politics, Pryor referred to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade as an “abomination,” and authored an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to affirm the constitutionality of a Texas anti-sodomy law in Lawrence v. Texas. Senate Democrats successfully blocked a floor vote on his nomination until he was installed to the 11th Circuit by recess appointment in 2004. The full Senate voted to confirm him in 2005. (RELATED: Trump Could Dramatically Reshape The Federal Courts)
The 53-45 vote saw several Republicans defect and vote against his confirmation, including GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is still serving in the Senate. As Collins’ 2005 “no” vote may preclude her from supporting Pryor now, the White House will have a slim majority to work with, assuming they are unable to solicit support from Democrats for his confirmation.
Lat also reports Trump was prepared to offer the seat to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a former Supreme Court clerk who argued 10 cases at the high court during his tenure as Texas Solicitor General. Cruz declined the appointment.