Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, has released a list of 11 potential Supreme Court justices he plans to vet to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia if he's elected to the White House.
Trump's picks include Steven Colloton of Iowa, Allison Eid of Colorado and Raymond Gruender of Missouri.
Also on the list are: Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, Joan Larsen of Michigan, Thomas Lee of Utah, William Pryor of Alabama, David Stras of Minnesota, Diane Sykes of Wisconsin and Don Willett of Texas. Trump had previously named Pryor and Sykes as examples of the kind of justices he would choose.
The news comes as Trump is working to bring together a fractured Republican Party and earn the trust of skill-skeptical establishment Republicans who question his electability in the general election and conservatives in his party still weary of his commitment to their cause.
After Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich dropped out of the presidential race and Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, some Republicans began to rethink the viability of President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland. The prospect of a President Trump led some to flip their stance, as The Christian Science Monitor reported earlier this month:
"If the GOP-led Senate continues to stall Garland's nomination, they face two other options. If Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democratic nominee, is elected, she could nominate a judge that Republicans dislike more than Garland.
Or Republican Senators could place their bets on Trump winning the White House. But with this bet comes another caveat: They must also hope that he appoints a nominee with strict conservative ideals. Because Trump is 'not a reliable, consistent conservative,' his nominee could be just as distasteful to conservatives as Mrs. Clinton's, if she were to be elected."
But Trump's announcement Wednesday eliminates part of the guessing game.
In a statement, Trump said the list "is representative of the kind of constitutional principles I value" and said that, as president, he would use it "as a guide to nominate our next United States Supreme Court Justices."
His campaign stressed the list was compiled "first and foremost, based on constitutional principles, with input from highly respected conservatives and Republican Party leadership."
Trump first said in March that he planned to release the list of five to 10 judges in an effort to ease concerns about his conservative credentials, which had come under attack in the heated Republican primary.
"I am going to give a list of either five or 10 judges that I will pick, 100 percent pick, that I will put in for nomination. Because some of the people that are against me say: 'We don't know if he's going to pick the right judge. Supposing he picks a liberal judge or supposing he picks a pro-choice judge,'"Trump said at an event in Palm Beach, Florida.
He said then the list would include judges "that everybody respects, likes and totally admires" — "great conservative judges, great intellects, the people that you want."
The vow marked a rare moment of acknowledgment by Trump that he could be doing more to appease those in his party opposed to his candidacy.
Trump had said he would like to appoint judges in the mold of deeply conservative as Scalia, who died in February.
In the statement, he described Scalia as "a remarkable person and a brilliant Supreme Court Justice."
"His career was defined by his reverence for the Constitution and his legacy of protecting Americans' most cherished freedoms," he added. "He was a justice who did not believe in legislating from the bench and he is a person whom I held in the highest regard and will always greatly respect his intelligence and conviction to uphold the Constitution of our country."