Donald Trump

Donald Trump has never held elected office or played any formal role in the nomination or appointment of judges.

In his public comments on judicial philosophy and the role of judges, he has emphasized the importance of intelligence and “great temperament,” and explicitly criticized Chief Justice John Roberts. Despite naming his sister, a liberal federal judge known mainly for deciding to extend constitutional protection to partial birth abortion, as a “phenomenal” potential Supreme Court justice during the primary season, Trump has since released two lists of judges who he says are the type of justices he would appoint to the Supreme Court. He has criticized recent Supreme Court decisions he considers wrongly decided, but also characterized Obergefell as unlikely to be changed because “The Supreme Court ruled on it.”


  • Believes Justice Scalia's vacancy on the Supreme Court should be filled before the election: No1
  • On Chief Justice John Roberts (7/2/2015): “We just went through a horrendous week in the Supreme Court, and if you look at Justice Roberts, what he’s done for Obamacare, it should be Robertscare. If you think about it, Jeb Bush gave us Justice Roberts. He’s the one that pushed Justice Roberts. You know, he worked with Jeb Bush. I don’t know if anybody knows that. And he pushed him. How could a thing like this happen? Obamacare was dead. Totally dead. And then Roberts, in order to be popular in the Beltway, who knows what, came in with a shocking decision. And then he came in last week with a shocking decision.”2

    “Justice Roberts should be ashamed of himself. He was a Jeb Bush – Jeb Bush was pushing him to the brother – and he got appointed. And that’s a shame.”3
  • On prospective judicial nominees (8/26/2015):“I would say very smart, great levels of intelligence, great temperament, is very important. Believe it or not, I have a good temperament. . .”4

    “My sister’s great. I have a sister who’s on the Court of Appeals and she’s fantastic. I think she would be phenomenal. I think she’d be one of the best. But frankly, I think she is . . . We’ll have to rule that out now. But I do have a sister who’s very smart and a very good person.”5
  • On racial preferences (8/16/2015): “I'm fine with affirmative action. We've lived with it for a long time. And I lived with it for a long time. And I've had great relationships with lots of people. So I'm fine with it.”6
  • On prospective judicial nominees (12/12/2015): “I’d want strongly conservative people, but I’d want great scholars. We want people who are truly in love with the Constitution.”7
  • On his favorite Supreme Court justice (12/12/2015): “Scalia’s terrific, but Clarence Thomas has been so consistent. He has been very, very strong and consistent and I really respect that.”8
  • On the Second Amendment: “The #2A to our Constitution is clear. The right of the people to keep & bear Arms shall not be infringed upon.”9


Obergefell v. Hodges (same-sex marriage):

8/14/2015: “Q: You say you would have liked the states, rather than the Supreme Court, to decide on gay marriage. Have you been to a gay wedding?
A: Yea, I have. [Broadway theater owner] Jordan Roth. You know Jordan, right? Great guy.
Q: So is this a dead issue for the GOP at this point?
A: Some people have hopes of passing amendments, but it's not going to happen. Congress can't pass simple things, let alone that. So anybody that's making that an issue is doing it for political reasons. The Supreme Court ruled on it.”10

1/31/2016: “I wish that [same-sex marriage] was done by the state. I don’t like the way they ruled. I disagree with the Supreme Court from the standpoint they should have given the state -- it should be a states’ rights issue. And that's the way it should have been ruled on, Chris [Wallace, FOX News host], not the way they did it.”11

King v. Burwell (Obamacare subsidies):

“Once again the Bush appointed Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has let us down. Jeb pushed him hard! Remember!”12

“If I win the presidency, my judicial appointments will do the right thing unlike Bush's appointee John Roberts on ObamaCare.”13

Roe v. Wade (abortion rights):

1999: “I’m very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I hear people debating the subject. But I still – I just believe in choice.”14
2011: “Q: Is there a right to privacy in the Constitution?
A: I guess there is, I guess there is. Why, just out of curiosity, do you ask the question?”15

Kelo v. City of New London (property rights):

“I think eminent domain, for massive projects, for instance, you're going to create thousands of jobs and you have somebody that's in the way—and you pay that person far more—don't forget eminent domain, they get a lot of money. And you need a house in a certain location because you're going to build this massive development that's going to employ thousands of people, or you're going to build a factory that without this little house, you can't build the factory. I think eminent domain is fine.”16

New York Times v. Sullivan (First Amendment):

"One of the things I'm going to do if I win. . . I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. . . .We're going to open up libel laws and we're going to have people sue you like you've never got sued before."17

United States v. Texas (executive immigration amnesty):

“Today's 4-4 Supreme Court ruling has blocked one of the most unconstitutional actions ever undertaken by a President. The executive amnesty from President Obama wiped away the immigration rules written by Congress[.]”18