Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Who Do Insiders Think Trump Will Select for the Supreme Court?

Polling the wisdom of the Federalist Society crowd.
Every November, the Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies assembles at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington. In even-numbered years, it has become tradition for leading conservative and libertarian lawyers to ponder how the recent election would affect the courts and the Constitution. Many anticipated that the 2016 gathering would resemble a wake. Instead, the conference resonated with an apprehensive effervescence—over 1,000 lawyers were at once nervous about what the Trump administration would actually deliver on, yet were still ecstatic that Antonin Scalia's replacement would be picked from their own ranks. Indeed, of the twenty-one people on President-Elect Trump's "short list" for the High Court, nearly half of them spoke at the confab last week. Several of them were actively schmoozing myself and others, likely to gin up support for their candidacy.
The game of who-will-it-be dominated discussions in the grand hallway at the Mayflower—and the wisdom of this crowd should be heard. Donald Trump promised that his judges would be "picked by the Federalist Society." On Wednesday, Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of the Federalist Society, visited Trump Tower to discuss the Scalia vacancy. Though the organization has not endorsed a candidate, the thousand-plus attendees at the conference had their favorites.
Using LexPredict's FantasySCOTUS, a Supreme Court prediction market I created in 2009, I surveyed more than a hundred Federalist Society lawyers about who they think President Trump will nominate. (USA Today has already featured our odds). As they swiped their favorite candidate on my iPad, each attorney explained the pros and cons of the short list. The results, which fall into three categories—the front runners, the Kennedy clerks, and the dark horses—provide insights into a process shrouded in secrecy.
The Front Runners ...
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