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Democratic presidential hopeful Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders participates during the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Progressives Applaud Sanders for Willingness to Release List of Possible Judicial Nominees Before Election

"As the field narrows, all presidential candidates should prioritize the courts if they want to show voters they have a real plan to protect any of their other ideas from a hijacked judiciary."

Julia Conley

Progressive group Demand Justice on Monday applauded Sen. Bernie Sanders for his willingness to release a shortlist of judges he would consider appointing to federal judicial seats should he win the presidency in 2020.

The Vermont senator and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination told the New York Times editorial board in an endorsement interview published Monday that he recognized the importance of being transparent with voters about the kind of judicial branch they could expect under his administration.

"It's a reasonable idea," Sanders said. "I'll take that into consideration. Nothing wrong with that. As to who [my] potential nominees for the Supreme Court would be. Yep."

"Releasing a Supreme Court shortlist would help voters understand how a candidate would deal with one of the most important issues facing the country and mobilize voters around a progressive vision for the courts."
–Brian Fallon, Demand Justice

In 2016, editorial board member Jesse Wegman noted in the interview, then-candidate Donald Trump enticed conservatives by releasing a shortlist of extreme right-wing judges who he was planning to appoint to federal judiciary seats.

Sanders's willingness to release his own shortlist "is a step in the right direction," said Demand Justice, as Democrats try to offer voters an alternative vision for the country after three years of Trump's presidency.

"Releasing a Supreme Court shortlist would help voters understand how a candidate would deal with one of the most important issues facing the country and mobilize voters around a progressive vision for the courts," said Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice.

Since taking office in 2017, Trump has remade the judicial branch by appointing 187 conservative judges to federal seats, including his addition of two right-wing judges, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

With one-in-four U.S. circuit court judges now a Trump appointee, a key provision of the Affordable Care Act was struck down by one right-wing court weeks ago. Trump has flipped the court responsible for appeals from Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, which will soon hear several cases regarding voting rights.

"As the field narrows, all presidential candidates should prioritize the courts if they want to show voters they have a real plan to protect any of their other ideas from a hijacked judiciary," said Fallon.

As Common Dreams reported in October, Demand Justice has called on all the Democratic candidates to release lists of their potential judicial nominees. 

The group also released its own shortlist for potential progressive nominees, including racial and criminal justice reform advocates Michelle Alexander and Bryan Stevenson; Nicole Berner, general counsel for the SEIU; and Judge Carlton Reeves, an Obama appointee who has blocked and sharply criticized some of the most extreme anti-choice laws put forward under the Trump administration.

"Democrats running for president...should be bold enough to pick someone who's worked to defend civil rights, workers' rights, or reproductive rights," said Fallon last year.


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