By Patrick Svitek, Texas Tribune
President Donald Trump on Wednesday named U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as a potential nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Trump included Cruz among 20 possible picks for the high court if Trump wins a second term in November and a seat later becomes open. The 20 new names come in addition to a group of prospective justices that Trump named during the 2016 campaign — and has since drawn from to fill two vacancies on the court.
Cruz’s name has come up before as a potential Supreme Court appointee, and he has said he isn’t interested. In a statement released moments after Trump’s announcement, Cruz was noncommittal and seemed to suggest he was satisfied with serving in the Senate.
“It’s humbling and an immense honor to be considered for the Supreme Court,” Cruz said. “In the Senate, I have been blessed to lead the fight to preserve our constitutional liberties —every day, to defend the rights of 29 million Texans — and I look forward to continuing to do so for many years to come.”
Trump also added a second Texan, James Ho, to his list of potential Supreme Court picks. Ho is a judge on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and former Texas solicitor general.
Since Trump locked down the GOP nomination in 2016, Cruz has occasionally fielded questions about the possibility of serving on the Supreme Court, given his background in constitutional law. He usually denies interest and says he is more interested in shaping the court as a U.S. senator and politician.
Four years ago, Trump’s commitment to naming the justices he could appoint to the court was one of the reasons that Cruz endorsed him after their bitter primary battle.
Ho, who succeeded Cruz as Texas solicitor general, has earned a reputation as one of Trump’s most hard-line picks for the federal appellate courts.
Ho has been pivotal in inching the 5th Circuit, already one of the country’s most conservative federal appellate courts, further right. He wrote that the Second Amendment has been treated as a “‘second-class’ right.”
In his very first writing for the court, Ho panned campaign donation limits, writing, “if there is too much money in politics, it’s because there’s too much government.” He suggested a long-serving federal judge had shown bias in allowing a subpoena of a religious group in a lawsuit over the handling fetal remains, decrying “the moral tragedy of abortion.” In March 2019, he misgendered a transgender plaintiff.
Another 5th Circuit judge with Texas ties, Kyle Duncan, is also on the list. Duncan, who is from Louisiana, is a former assistant Texas solicitor general.