A “Celebrity Apprentice” Inspired Power Poll of Donald Trump’s SCOTUS Options

Posted: December 9, 2016 by beguide in Uncategorized


There is a saying in the NFL that says if you have two potential starting quarterbacks, you actually have no starting quarterbacks. The reasoning behind this theory is one of indecision. If you don’t have one clear choice, it’s because no one is good enough to take that top spot.  Consider then for a second the twenty one (21!!) candidates put forth by Donald Trump for the vacant Supreme Court seat left by Antonin Scalia’s passing almost a year ago.  Twenty one people is a pretty high number for a position of such importance, as this is almost twice as many people who participated in the first democratic and republican presidential debates, and a third larger than the number of people who competed on celebrity apprentice each year. With that last point in mind, let’s rank these all the potential candidates, considering their qualifications, how they could be judged based on past actions, and how they might affect cases this term.  To help determine their chances of getting appointed, the candidates will be grouped into divisions based on which Celebrity Apprentice contestant they most resemble, which in turn will indicate the likely outcome of their Congressional appointment hearings.

THE DENNIS RODMAN DIVISION – Every reality show includes participants who have no shot at winning; but who hopefully might spit on someone and get you footage for future teasers.  The following candidate(s) are not qualified to be Supreme Court justices (at least compared to the rest of the candidates), and are likely getting considered for reasons outside of filling the ninth seat to the highest Court in America.


Qualifications:  None, but if you want to be technical, is a Federal Senator from Utah.  Clerked for Alito.

Could be Loved/Hated for:  See above.  Worked with the Tea Party and supported Ted Cruz.  Has spoken publicly in favor of abortion restrictions, expanding gun rights and limiting marriage to just a man and a woman.

Possible Influences on Current/Prospective Cases:  All of them because has no judicial experience.  More specifically, G.G. (transgender bathroom case).

Likely Appointment Outcome:  Very little chance in hell of sitting on the Supreme Court.  It seems more likely that Lee’s brother, who is on the Utah Supreme Court and referenced later, would receive the nomination instead of Mike, whose representatives have indicated that Lee is unwilling to leave State politics. 


THE LENNOX LEWIS DIVISION – Lewis was a Canadian boxer who is best known for completely destroying Mike Tyson, along with any hope that Tyson would be a World-Class boxer again after prison.   As the old adage goes though, being able to punch someone in the face does not a good businessman make, and Lewis did not make it far during his stint on Celebrity Apprentice.  The following candidates are likely very smart judges, but it is unclear from their current resume whether they would qualify for the 9th spot on the Supreme Court.


Qualifications:  Judge for U.S. District Court of Southern Florida

Could be Loved/Hated for: Two notable decisions which supported an immigrant’s rights to return to U.S. in opposition of deportation proceedings.  In an ironic twist with the soon to be ousted Judge Garland, Moreno was appointed to the 11th Circuit by Bush Sr., but was denied the seat by incoming Clinton Democrats once the new term began.

Possible Influences on Current/Prospective Cases:  Maybe if U.S. v. Texas immigration policy comes up again; but otherwise, hard to tell because there are not many noteworthy, predictive decisions.


Qualifications – Associate Judgment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

Could be Loved/Hated for: The Armed Forces Court doesn’t deal with the same legal issues that come before the Supreme Court (i.e. civil rights, property, patent law, civil procedure, etc.), so it is hard to see how her experience would translate.  Most of Ryan’s opinions deal with criminal matters, but even that is distinguishable because of the different laws used in military court.  One noteworthy decision illustrating this difference is when Ryan held that a defendant could not be discharged for attending a KKK rally, but that was focused more on the First Amendment’s place in the Armed Forces rather than more applicable State or Federal law.

Possible Influence on Current/Prospective Supreme Court CasesZiglar v. Abasi (dealing with civil violations for post-9/11 Guantanamo detention).

Likely Appointment Outcome – Should either of these candidates receive the appointment, one would assume that Trump’s opponents could either (a) contest the appointment and use it to show how Trump is not qualified to appoint a Supreme Court justice, or (b) be glad that it is not one of the candidates a few places down the list.  Best guess is we’re still not in range of people who have a realistic chance of being appointed.



THE HERSCHEL WALKER DIVISION – For those unfamiliar with the work of number 34, Walker was an amazing running back who set rushing records at the University of Georgia before playing for the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles.  Despite receiving countless accolades for his running ability, Walker is best known for being traded by the Vikings in exchange for tons of draft picks that won the Cowboys multiple Super Bowls in the years that followed.  The following candidate(s) could write hundreds of amazing legal decisions, but will probably be known for being on the wrong end of a patently-evil institution’s success. (Author’s Note:  Nazim asked that edit out any partisan political opinions, but I liked this joke too much to cut it.  There are no others, I swear).


QualificationsChief Justice of the D.C. Court of Appeals

Is Being Loved/Hated forBeing appointed by Obama is probably where we can start and end here, but for the sake of detail, Garland likely would have been questioned over his positions against gun rights, specifically the Heller decision and other decisions looking to expand the Second Amendment.  It should be noted; however, that Garland also rarely voted in favor of criminal defendant rights and took part in a decision that denied Due Process rights to Guantanamo detainees, so he is more of a moderate than the liberal swing vote he was often projected as.

Could Have Influenced Current/Prospective Cases:  Ziglar (referenced above).  Hypothetically could have influenced civil rights cases, but that’s still a guess.

Likely Appointment Outcome:  The funny part about Garland is that while he likely would have been a liberal leaning Justice, the gambit taken by Congress in refusing his confirmation is fairly wild in hindsight.  It certainly paid off with Trump’s victory in the election, but it’s not like Republicans would have had so much to complain about if another Anthony Kennedy took the Court.  Regardless, Garland is only down this far because there’s no way he gets appointed, regardless of what you read in the next few days about politicians and litigators trying to force the appointment.


THE ROD BLAGOJEVICH DIVISION – Ignoring for one moment that Blagojevich was convicted of accepting political bribes and sentenced to fourteen years in prison, Blagojevich, who served as Governor, State Representative, and as a member of House of Representatives, was wildly over-qualified to be on a show that judged his business acumen against Darryl Strawberry, Cyndi Lauper, and two former professional wrestlers (Bill Goldberg and Maria Kanellis).  The following candidates are likely qualified for the 9th seat on the Supreme Court, but may find unexpected opposition because of decisions in their past that are easy critical talking points.


Qualifications:  Judge on the Georgia Supreme Court

Could be Loved/Hated for: Participating in an opinion that permitted the KKK to adopt a highway in Georgia on First Amendment grounds.   It’s important to note that there are a host of legal decisions that reserve First Amendment rights to KKK members, which doesn’t mean that the judge themselves support the KKK, but considering how much we’re throwing around KKK and Nazis in the news right now, my guess is this is not the kind of decision you want on your resume when you are about to be appointed to the Supreme Court.  In addition, Blackwell generally does not favor criminal defendants; and in one instance, changed long-standing precedent in holding that it was a defendant’s burden to overturn a guilty plea, and not the State’s burden.

Possible Influences on Current/Prospective CasesNelson v. Colorado (burden of proof for reversing monetary penalties; Lee v. Tam (Patent application of rock band whose name is a racial slur).


Qualifications – Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.  This is not a qualification per se, but is the only African American candidate on this list.

Could be Loved/Hated for: – Would likely face opposition from environmental advocates because of an opinion denying environmental claims in Michigan, a State most-recently accused of having poison water.  Has also voted in favor of Voter ID laws and supported governmental power to engage in eminent domain.  Young was actually ahead of the curve on the Kelo v. City of New London decision, which is known for expanding government ability to seize private property and for being a decision that everyone hates.

Possible Influence on Current Supreme Court CasesMccrory (N.C. Voter ID Laws), Murr (Takings Clause).


Qualifications: Judge for Third Circuit Court of Appeals

Could be Loved/Hated for:  Taking a weirdly unsympathetic and tone-deaf approach to an NFL class action suit, going so far as to suggest in oral arguments that some players could be faking their injuries to receive settlement proceeds.   If that wasn’t buzzworthy enough for internet culture, Hardiman has also been soft on guns and hard on people trying to sue police officers.  While on the Third Circuit bench, had opinions that would have restricted plaintiff’s abilities to bring claims for unfair prison treatment or police brutality.  In lighter news, Hardiman dissented from a case where a school’s ban on bracelets that said “I LOVE BOOBIES” for breast cancer awareness violated the First Amendment.

Possible Influences on Current/Prospective cases:  Hernandez v. Mesa (Civil claim for cross-border shooting).


Qualifications: Associate Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court

Could be Loved/Hated for:  Issuing an opinion that denied a University’s ability to regulate guns on campus.  Considering that just last week there were reports of a shooter on Ohio State University, favoring gun rights in the realm of public education makes you an easy target for criticism, regardless of the legal grounds and precedent which made up the basis for that conclusion.  Eid also upheld the termination of an employee who tested positive for marijuana, reasoning that the Supremacy Clause favored federal regulation of drugs over Colorado’s legalization of drugs.  So depending on how you feel about guns and drugs, Eid either rules or she’s a huge killjoy.

Possible Influences on Current/Prospective cases:  There are no Second Amendment cases on the Court now, but it’s easy to see how she would side with Thomas as the strongest gun proponents on the Court moving forward.


Qualifications:  Justice on the Florida Supreme Court

Could be Loved/Hated for:  Dissented in the recent case of Hurst v. Florida, which requires a jury make the final decision on the death penalty, and dissented in a recent re-districting case arguing that the Court did not have the authority to order redistricting.  Along with those, Canaday gave a speech in 1999 discussing the merits and benefits of impeachment, which I’m sure he never thought 17 years later would come back to haunt him.

Possible Influences on Current/Prospective CasesMoore v. Texas (Tx. Death Penalty Standards), Bethune-Hill (racial gerrymandering).

Likely Appointment Outcome – It is easier to see how these candidates could be appointed, but it’s a wonder whether they would be worth the trouble.  None of these candidates are as conservative as those about to be referenced, so it’s hard to see how it would be worth appointing these candidates in light of the issues referenced above.


THE JESSIE JAMES DIVISION – James gained enough fame and notoriety customizing motorcycles that he was able to wed Sandra Bullock, aka America’s sweetheart.  James appeared on Celebrity Apprentice in 2008, but less than a year later became embroiled in a sex scandal with a woman who had neo-nazi tattoos.  The following candidates may seem perfectly acceptable to Democrats now, but their resumes foreshadow the possibility of being strict conservatives that should have been vetted out before they took the bench.


Qualifications – Associate Judge of the 7th Circuit

Could be Loved/Hated for: Sykes represents two characteristics that will be commonly referenced in candidates from this point on.  First, Sykes has advocated for a textual view of the Constitution which favors a deference to the Legislature, which is a hallmark of Conservative justices.  Also, Sykes has noteworthy opinions based around Appellate Courts denying plaintiffs access to the Court where law would seemingly otherwise provide, including advocating for the use of common law (old-timey law from the 1800s) to overturn a cause of action under the Landlord Tenant Code (super-specific set of laws in every state that keep people from being homeless).  The last point is noteworthy because Chief Justice Roberts seems to be a proponent of limiting Federal disparate impact claims, which are statutory claims used to protect against latent discrimination.

Possible Influence on Current Supreme Court casesWells Fargo v. City of Miami. (One of many cases determining what grounds a plaintiff may access federal court).


Qualifications – Associate Judge of the U.S. District Court of Eastern Kentucky.   Could be first South Asian Justice on the Supreme Court

Could be Loved/Hated for: Consistently advocating for restricting federal jurisdiction, which on its face may not seem like a big deal, but there are a host of cases presently before the Supreme Court dealing with claims under Federal Discrimination statutes for disability and race.  In one particular case, Thapar denied federal jurisdiction because a claimant was one penny short of jurisdictional requirements, which may seem petty, but it better evidences a hesitancy to permit claimants from seeking redress in their preferred venue.

Possible Influence on Current/Prospective Supreme Court casesFry v. Napoleon Community Schools (procedure of bring claims for handicapped children under ADA).

Likely Appointment Outcome – Hard to see Congress going to war over any of these candidates, as their resumes do not touch on popular concerns of those critiquing these appointments.  In the same token, it’s hard to see the President choosing to appoint someone on such a nuanced issue of judicial policy, whereas the following candidates would likely make a bigger splash.


THE BRETT MICHAELS DIVISION One would imagine that Donald Trump saw a bit of himself in Brett Michaels.  Much like Trump, Michaels had reinvented himself after his first wave of popularity as a reality TV star, and Michaels impressed Trump enough to win Season Three of Celebrity Apprentice.  Hoping to follow that same path, the following candidates are known for their connection to previous and existing Supreme Court Justices, for better and for worse.


Qualifications – Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.  One of the only Jewish judges in consideration.

Could be Loved/Hated for:  Clerking for Thomas, who is the most crotchety Conservative Justice currently on the bench.  Stras also argued that it was not the Court’s job to re-write statutes that were unconstitutional, but instead that the Court’s only duty was to strike the law in full, which could be a veiled shot at the Supreme Court’s repeated instance on doing backflips to save the Affordable Care Act.   Has also written law review articles advocating for restrictions on Supreme Court power.

Possible influence on Current/Prospective Supreme Court cases – There are no Affordable Care Act cases currently before the Supreme Court; but should any reappear, Stras could be a swing vote in favor of striking the law once and for all.


Qualifications: Judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

Could be Loved/Hated for:  Has shown admiration for Scalia in the past and has one particular ruling advocating for stricter judicial consideration of agency decisions, reasoning that the Constitution did not intend to give administrative agencies that much power.  Is also somewhat two sided on criminal procedure, in that he ruled in favor of restricting civil claims under the 4th and 14th amendment, but has ruled in favor of suppressing evidence based on 4th amendment grounds.

Possible Influences on Current/Prospective casesG.G. (transgender bathroom case), Manuel (Civil 4th Amendment claim).


Qualifications:  Associate Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court

Could be Loved/Hated for: Clerked for Scalia (which is one thing), but also said that Scalia was the greatest legal mind of our era (which is kind of something else). In turn, seems to be an advocate for more limited judicial power.  Has also favored restricting rights of plaintiffs to sue big companies and/or prevent the unfair treatment of workers.  Has expanded immunity rights and made it more difficult to enter federal court.

Possible Influences on Current/Prospective casesLightfoot v. Cendant Mortgage Corp. (Federal Jurisdiction for Fannie Mae lawsuits).

Likely Appointment Outcome –If these judges play up their admiration for Scalia and Thomas, they could face the same fate as Robert Bork, the Regan appointee who was rejected by Congress for espousing too many conservative views.  In the same token, it’s very unlikely that admiration for two long-standing conservative justices would turn-off a Republican majority in Congress, so should these candidates receive the nomination, it is likely they would be appointed.


THE OMAROSA DIVISION – Omarosa gained so much notoriety from being a villain on the first season of the non-celebrity version of the Apprentice that she appeared twice on Celebrity Apprentice and was the only person listed on Wikipedia without her last name.  Omarosa is so synonymous with The Apprentice that making a joke that she should be on this list is such low-hanging fruit that it might as well be a vegetable.  In the same token, there’s a difference between being a punch line for how bad Trump’s Supreme Court appointments could be, and being reasonably considered for a job because of some crazy event in your past.  Similarly, the following candidate(s) represents Democrats worst fears because of a previous decision or opinion regarding key civil rights issues.  


Qualifications:  Judge for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Could be Loved/Hated for:  Let’s take a small detour and cover what this guy is and what this guy is not, because a week ago I saw a tweet that said “this judge wants to criminalize sex between my partner and I in my house”, which is a bit sensational even though you can reasonable connect the dots to where this person is coming from.  On paper, this is the most Scalia-esque candidate with the most Scalia-esque sounding resume, including decisions supporting voter ID laws, decisions upholding RFRA cases, decisions supporting religious association with government and one particular case that barred a non-profit organization from handing food out to the homeless.  That being said, there is a difference between advocating for limited Court intervention and reversing decades old civil rights cases.  There will likely be attention on Snyder’s advocacy in the early 2000s against gay rights cases, and although those shouldn’t be ignored, those opinions don’t mean that they will be leading the charge to eviscerate the gay marriage cases from two years ago.  It should also be noted that Obama appointed Snyder to the U.S. sentencing commission for purposes of sentencing reform, so much like Scalia, there is possibility that you have a conservative on some issues that is still an advocate for criminal defendants.

Possible Influences on Current/Prospective Cases: Trinity Lutheran (Establishment Clause case with religious day care), Mccrory (N.C. Voter ID laws).


Qualifications:  Judge for the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals

Could be Loved/Hated for:  Two pretty foreboding decisions if you are worried about Roe v. Wade, which include a denial of contraceptives for pregnant women and upholding a law where a doctor tells you how bad an abortion is before you get one.  Also opposed the continued monitoring of desegregation efforts in school districts, which is like Shelby County – lite.

Possible Influences on Current/Prospective casesBethune-Hill (racial gerrymandering), G.G. (transgender bathroom case).


Qualifications:  Judge on the Utah Supreme Court.  Brother of the number 23 on this list.

Could be Loved/Hated for:  Dissenting in a wrongful death case which held that an unborn fetus is not a “minor child” under the statute.  There’s a lot of nuance to that decision, and while you can’t jump to conclusions about whether or not that type of logic carries over to abortion restrictions, it’s likely that Lee would be a pro-life justice based on the rest of his resume.  It is also noteworthy that he also held that there is no exclusionary rule in Utah’s Fourth Amendment, which at first blush sounds insane to me.

Possible Influences on Current/Prospective Cases:  Manuel v. City of Joliet (expansion of 4th Amendment Civil claims).


Qualifications: Judge on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Could be Loved/Hated for:  Supporting greater government restrictions on reproductive rights; including being one of the concurring justices on last year’s Zubik v. Burwell decision which held religious employers did not have to provide contraception to employees.  On a lighter note, Colloton held that a criminal defendant on probation could not be banned from having unprotected sex and also issued an opinion three years ago which relevantly cited the 21st Amendment (which struck down prohibition), so maybe Colloton isn’t super conservative and just likes to party.

Possible Influences on Current/Prospective casesLynch v. Morales-Santana (Gender-based Equal Protection claim involving immigration).

Likely Appointment Outcome:  If Democrats are going to filibuster a Supreme Court appointment, these are the guys who are probably going to get it.   Seeing as how Donald Trump discussed overturning Roe v. Wade on his first television interview after the election, it is probable that anyone with a noteworthy pro-life opinion will get tons of scrutiny in the upcoming confirmation hearings.


THE GENE SIMMONS DIVISION – At face value, a make-up wearing, blood spitting, fire breathing rock star who has made a career singing songs about his own dick isn’t the ideal businessman, but such quick opinions ignores that fact that Gene Simmons created a multi-billion dollar industry around solidly mediocre songs about partying and sex.  The following candidates may be qualified, but may get caught because of overblown first impressions specifically on reproductive rights and same sex marriage.


Qualifications:  Associate Justice of Iowa Supreme Court

Could be Loved/Hated for:  Two decisions on civil rights issues that are on both sides of the spectrum. Mansfield ruled against a State’s refusal in adding a same-sex partner’s name to a birth certificate, but then also hinted he’s not on board with same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.  He also has applied the undue burden test for a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy, but in the scope of contraceptive care, which is a little earlier than it needs to be.  Also ruled in favor of keeping life sentences without parole for juveniles, which means he could be Thomas’ running buddy in sounding flabbergasted when long-standing criminal convictions are overturned.

Possible influences on Current/Prospective casesG.G. (transgender bathroom case), Beckles v. U.S. (Determining retroactivity of unconstitutional sentencing guidelines)


Qualifications – Chief Justice of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Funny sounding name

Could be Loved/Hated for: Writing the lower court’s majority opinion in the Hobby Lobby case, which held that (1) corporations have First Amendment rights, and (2) the Religious Freedom and Reformation Act did not require employers to provide employees with health care.  Timmy Squared gets preferential treatment of Colloton because while Hobby Lobby is a dumb outcome, you can place more blame on legislators for passing Religious Freedom Restoration Acts in the first place.  Zubik, on the other hand, takes an already dumb proposition and doubles down on it.

Possible Influence on Current/Prospective Supreme Court cases:  There are no Religious Freedom and Reformation Act cases; however, these Acts at both a Federal and State level have been used to undermine not only the Affordable Care Act, but also same-sex rights.  If you’re prone to hyperbolic prognostications (which we are not), you could certainly worry that Ole’ Timmy Timmy could support the erosion of gay rights should such a case come before the Supreme Court; but again, that’s a conclusion that requires a lot more information that is not available at this time.

Likely Appointment Outcome – Not worth filibustering, but worth making it a headache for Republicans to confirm the appointment.  Likely to go the route of Alito, whose appointment was contested to such an extent that it made his wife cry, but yet is still sitting on the bench today.

THE KHLOE KARSASHIAN DIVISION – To note how popular the Kardashians were in 2008 (the year that Khloe appeared on Celebrity Apprentice), consider the following anecdote.  That same year, I took a vacation to Las Vegas with three other people and we ran into Kourtney Kardashian at a restaurant.  Not only did I not recognize Kourtney then, but I didn’t know why I should have recognized her, and nor did anyone else in the restaurant aside from my friend Kate who likes the E! Channel.  Since appearing on Celebrity Apprentice, Khloe has become probably the second-most famous person to be on that show, and is only second because Trump ran for president and won the election.  The following candidate(s) have a low-profile now, but could end up being very famous and noteworthy Justices when all is said and done.


Qualifications – Associate Justice on the Texas Supreme Court

Could be Loved/Hated for:  Has a twitter account in which he compared Donald Trump to the Death Star.  Not afraid to make “dad jokes” on said account.  Legally speaking, favors a libertarian approach to the Court, which values personal and economic freedom over government regulation.  Helped pass executive order that expedited citizenship requests for immigrant service members.  If hearings go into his background, also assisted with Establishment Clause cases protecting Ten Commandments on government property and including “under God” in pledge of allegiance.

Possible Influence on Current Supreme Court casesTrinity Lutheran (Establishment Clause case for religious day care); G.G. (transgender bathroom case)

Likely Appointment Outcome – Judges who are appointed to the Supreme Court but not confirmed often lose their nomination because of Congressional backlash, or some weird story comes out from their background.  For example, Regan-appointee Douglas Ginsberg declined the nomination after it came out that he smoked pot with students while employed as a Professor at Harvard Law School.  Provided this candidate can avoid having a similar snafu come out of his Twitter account, this should be a relative easy appointment.

THE JOAN RIVERS DIVISION – Joan Rivers entered Celebrity Apprentice with three important qualifications: (1) was able to sell junk on QVC, (2) knew how to be compelling on television, and (3) didn’t take shit from people, especially dumb white guys.  To that end, Rivers victory in Season Two was predetermined, as she was the perfect candidate for this kind of show.  This last candidate is probably the most qualified candidate for Trump and the best candidate for Republicans.


Qualifications: Judge for 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

Could be Loved/Hated for: writing an “opinion of the year” which criticized the EEOC’s admission of evidence in support of a disparate impact claim.  Also supported a Tea Party claim against the IRS, which required the IRS to disclose information pursuant to the law suit.  There are a few other minor things you could complain about, but appears to be a very qualified, articulate judge with an even-handed approach to the law.

Possible Influences on Current/Prospective casesWells Fargo v. City of Miami. (One of many cases determining what grounds a plaintiff may access federal court).

Likely Appointment Outcome:  Would likely follow the path of Roberts, in that Democrats wouldn’t be crazy about it, but would be hard-pressed to attack a well-qualified candidate.  For those reasons, will probably narrowly receive the nomination over the Honorable Brett Michaels.



















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