A Supreme Court Pick in the Mold of Scalia
As Trump zeroes in on SCOTUS decision, federal judge Steven Colloton emerges as a natural fit
Judge Andrew Napolitano visited Trump Tower this week to advise Trump on the process of choosing a Supreme Court pick.
“He was interested in a broad range of ideas and attitudes about the type of person who would best fill Justice Scalia’s seat,” Napolitano told Stuart Varney on Fox News.
“He has focused on making sure that we get the bad guys, but at the same time, he has made sure to protect the civil liberties that are so dear to us.”
But of all the names on Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist, the one who is best positioned to fill Scalia’s seat — and his shoes — is arguably Steve Colloton.
A federal judge who has spent over a decade on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, Colloton possesses both Scalia’s commitment to constitutional principles and his intellectual heft.
Colloton graduated from Princeton University before attending Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal. After completing his studies, Colloton clerked for Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
In the mid-1990s, Colloton also worked under Kenneth Starr as an independent counsel on the Whitewater investigation. Before being appointed to his current position by George W. Bush in 2003, Colloton served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa.
Judge Colloton's record on the bench is as strong as his resume. Colloton was part of a key ruling that exempted a Christian college from the Obamacare birth control mandate. He also voted in 2012 to uphold a law in South Dakota that required doctors to advise women seeking abortions that risk of suicide increases following an abortion. Colloton is, like Scalia, a Catholic.
It is one thing to appoint a justice who will vote the right way, but Colloton has the intellectual depth necessary to sway the court and steer it in a sound direction faithful to the Constitution for years to come.
A significant advantage for Trump in selecting Colloton is that, unlike some of the other names on Trump's shortlist, he has a far better chance of getting through the confirmation process unscathed. Colloton was confirmed his current position by a whopping 94-1 vote. There is no reason to think he wouldn't get through to the Supreme Court either.
Colloton also has a reputation for being measured and fair. "He has focused on making sure that we get the bad guys, but at the same time, he has made sure to protect the civil liberties that are so dear to us," Sen. Chuck Grassley — a close ally of Colloton's and an advocate of his appointment to the Supreme Court — said of Colloton during his 2003 confirmation hearing.
Were Trump to appoint Colloton to the bench it would be a well-justified nod to Grassley. The senator has been the key player in efforts to prevent President Obama installing Judge Merrick Garland by holding up his confirmation, allowing Trump's campaign to turn the future of the Supreme Court into a key election issue.