During the 2016 election, now-President Donald Trump took an unprecedented move and released a list of fully vetted Supreme Court nominees prior to Election Day. This decision paid off, with about 20% of voters in Election Day exit polls pointing to composition of the Supreme Court as their number one issue.
Liberals are taking a page from the president’s playbook and hoping to have a list of nominees for judicial vacancies prepared in the event that a Democrat wins the next election. The liberal Alliance for Justice (AFJ) is spearheading the “Building the Bench” initiative which is focusing on filling lower court vacancies of Democratic administration appointees they believe might retire if a Democrat becomes president.
A recent New York Times article noted:
It reflects both what the left sees as an escalating crisis because of the success of the Trump judicial assembly line as well as an acknowledgment of the benefits his administration reaped by having a list of potential Supreme Court justices in hand before Mr. Trump was even sworn in. The list of candidates was critical to Mr. Trump’s securing conservative backing, but it also enabled the administration to rapidly fill not only a Supreme Court seat but a number of important appeals court posts with judges who had been approved and vetted by conservative activists.
However, the AFJ list differs from president Trump's in a major way—the list completely lacks transparency. Not only are the names on the list being kept a secret, but the AFJ is not disclosing the names of the groups who are partnering with them to vet the potential nominees. This is especially alarming in light of increasingly radical positions that liberals have taken on everything from expanding the Supreme Court to Second Amendment rights.
Members of the Building the Bench Advisory Council may give insight into just how radical the initiative is willing to go. Professor Kimberle Crenshaw has been credited with coining the term “intersectionality” and has referred to law enforcement as “killers/overseers” in the past. Another council member, Former Dean of Yale Law School Harold Koh, supported the school’s decision to prevent military recruiters from participating in its annual jobs fair.
One democratic candidate for President, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, has already said that he supports AFJ’s initiative. It remains to be seen whether other candidates will endorse the list or come up with their own.