Supreme Court Shortlist

In 2016, Donald Trump released a shortlist of possible Supreme Court picks, and it succeeded in rallying conservative voters to his side. In 2020, the Democratic candidates running for president should also state what kind of justices they would appoint. Doing so would show their commitment to the Supreme Court as an issue and draw a clear line in the sand about what is at stake in the coming election.

To prod the candidates, Demand Justice is releasing its own Supreme Court shortlist of possible nominees in the next Democratic administration. Our list is made up of brilliant lawyers who have spent their careers fighting for progressive values and represent the diversity of our nation.

In releasing this list, we also hope to make clear that the next Democratic president ought to approach the task of nominating judges with a new playbook––one that prioritizes unabashedly progressive lawyers and legal thinkers, who have all too often been pushed aside. None of the lawyers on our list are corporate lawyers, in keeping with our call for the next president to avoid nominating any more lawyers who have been partners at corporate law firms or in-house counsel at large corporations. Instead, our list boasts a wide range of former public defenders, public interest lawyers, academics, and plaintiff’s lawyers.

The fact that the Senate, under Mitch McConnell, has invoked the nuclear option for Supreme Court nominees should give the next Democratic president a freer hand to nominate bold progressives like the ones on our list. In the past, Democratic presidents were bound by the need for 60 votes, leading them to look for “safer” picks who could draw Republican support. If Democrats win back the Senate and are able to confirm a pick with just a simple majority, there is all the less reason to confine ourselves to those more traditional types of nominees.

Read More About Our Shortlisters:


Michelle Alexander
  • Visiting Professor of Social Justice, Union Theological Seminary
  • Author, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
  • Founding Director, Racial Justice Project, ACLU of Northern California
  • Clerk to Justice Harry A. Blackmun, U.S. Supreme Court
  • Clerk to Chief Judge Abner Mikva, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
  • J.D., Stanford Law School
  • B.A., Vanderbilt University
Brigitte Amiri
  • Deputy Director, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project
  • Lead counsel in Garza v. Hargan, challenging the Trump administration’s attempted ban on abortion for unaccompanied immigrant minors
  • Counsel to the last abortion clinic in Kentucky, defending against the governor’s attempts to shut it down
  • Former Attorney, Foreclosure Prevention Project, South Brooklyn Legal Services
  • Former Attorney, Center for Reproductive Rights
  • J.D., Northeastern University School of Law
  • B.A., DePaul University
Xavier Becerra
  • Attorney General of California
  • Former U.S. Representative, 34th District of California
  • Former Deputy Attorney General, California Department of Justice
  • Former Attorney, Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts
  • J.D., Stanford Law School
  • B.A., Stanford University
Nicole Berner
  • General Counsel, Service Employees International Union
  • Former Attorney, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  • Clerk to Judge Betty Binns Fletcher, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Clerk to Judge Thelton E. Henderson, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
  • J.D., University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  • M.P.P., University of California, Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy
  • B.A., University of California, Berkeley
Sharon Block
  • Executive Director, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School
  • Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Senior Counselor to U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez
  • Former Member, National Labor Relations Board
  • Former Senior Labor and Employment Counsel to U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy
  • J.D., Georgetown University Law Center
  • B.A., Columbia University
Richard F. Boulware
  • Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada
  • Former Attorney, Federal Public Defender’s Office in Las Vegas
  • Former Attorney, Federal Defenders of New York
  • Clerk to Judge Denise Cote, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • J.D., Columbia Law School
  • A.B., Harvard College
Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar
  • Associate Justice, Supreme Court of California
  • Former Stanley Morrison Professor of Law, Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University
  • Former Special Assistant to the President for Justice and Regulatory Policy, President Barack Obama
  • Clerk to Chief Judge Mary M. Schroeder, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • J.D., Yale Law School
  • Ph.D. in Political Science, Stanford University
  • B.A., Harvard College
Anita Earls
  • Associate Justice, Supreme Court of North Carolina
  • Founding Executive Director, Southern Coalition for Social Justice
  • Former Director of Advocacy, University of North Carolina Center for Civil Rights
  • Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice
  • J.D., Yale Law School
  • B.A., Williams College
James Forman, Jr.
  • J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law, Yale Law School
  • Author, Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America
  • Former Attorney, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia
  • Clerk to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, U.S. Supreme Court
  • Clerk to Judge William Norris, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • J.D., Yale Law School
  • A.B., Brown University
Deepak Gupta
  • Founding Principal, Gupta Wessler PLLC
  • Former Senior Counsel for Litigation and Enforcement Strategy, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Founding Director, Consumer Justice Project, Public Citizen Litigation Group
  • Clerk to Judge Lawrence K. Karlton, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
  • J.D., Georgetown University Law Center
  • B.A., Fordham University
Vanita Gupta
  • President and CEO, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Former Acting Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Former Deputy Legal Director and Director of the Center for Justice, ACLU
  • Former Attorney, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • J.D., New York University School of Law
  • B.A., Yale University
Dale Ho
  • Director, ACLU Voting Rights Project
  • Lead counsel in Department of Commerce v. New York, challenging the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the Census
  • Former Attorney, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • Clerk to Judge Robert Smith, New York Court of Appeals
  • Clerk to Judge Barbara Jones, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • J.D., Yale Law School
  • A.B., Princeton University
Sherrilyn Ifill
  • President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • Former Professor of Law, University of Maryland School of Law
  • Author, On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century
  • J.D., New York University School of Law
  • B.A., Vassar College
Pamela S. Karlan
  • Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law, Co-Director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, Stanford Law School
  • Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Clerk to Justice Harry A. Blackmun, U.S. Supreme Court
  • Clerk to Judge Abraham D. Sofaer, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • J.D., Yale Law School
  • M.A. and B.A., Yale University
Jane L. Kelly
  • Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • Former Attorney, Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa
  • Clerk to Judge David Hansen, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • Clerk to Judge Daniel Porter, U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota
  • J.D., Harvard Law School
  • B.A., Duke University
Lawrence Krasner
  • District Attorney, City of Philadelphia
  • Founder, Krasner and Associates
  • Former Attorney, Philadelphia Public Defender and Federal Public Defender’s Office in Philadelphia
  • J.D., Stanford Law School
  • B.A., University of Chicago
Leondra Kruger
  • Associate Justice, Supreme Court of California
  • Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel
  • Former Assistant to the Solicitor General and Acting Deputy Solicitor General
  • Clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens, U.S. Supreme Court
  • Clerk to Judge David Tatel, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • J.D., Yale Law School
  • B.A., Harvard College
Catherine Lhamon
  • Chair, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
  • Legal Affairs Secretary, Office of California Governor Gavin Newsom
  • Former Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education
  • Former Director of Impact Litigation, Public Counsel
  • Clerk to Judge William A. Norris, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • J.D., Yale Law School
  • B.A., Amherst College
Goodwin Liu
  • Associate Justice, Supreme Court of California
  • Former Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  • Former Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
  • Clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court
  • Clerk to Judge David Tatel, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
  • J.D., Yale Law School
  • M.A., Oxford University
  • B.S., Stanford University
M. Elizabeth Magill
  • Executive Vice President and Provost, University of Virginia
  • Former Dean and Richard E. Lang Professor of Law, Stanford Law School
  • Author of administrative law casebook and a nationally-recognized expert in administrative and constitutional law
  • Former Senior Legislative Assistant for Energy and Natural Resources to U.S. Senator Kent Conrad
  • Clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court
  • Clerk to Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • J.D., University of Virginia School of Law
  • B.A., Yale University
Shannon Minter
  • Legal Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights
  • Counsel to plaintiffs in Doe v. Trump, the first case to challenge the Trump administration’s attempted ban on military service by transgender people.
  • Lead counsel in In re Marriage Cases, in which the California Supreme Court held that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry
  • J.D., Cornell Law School
  • B.A., University of Texas at Austin
Melissa Murray
  • Frederick I. and Grace Stokes Professor of Law and Faculty Director, Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network, New York University School of Law
  • Former Interim Dean, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  • Author of the first casebook to cover the field of reproductive rights and justice and a nationally-recognized expert in family law, constitutional law, and reproductive rights and justice
  • Clerk to Judge Sonia Sotomayor, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • Clerk to Judge Stefan R. Underhill, U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut
  • J.D., Yale Law School
  • B.A., University of Virginia
Nina Perales
  • Vice President of Litigation, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • Counsel for DACA beneficiaries challenging the Trump administration’s attempt to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy
  • Lead counsel in Arizona v. Intertribal Council of Arizona, challenging Arizona’s proof of citizenship requirement for voter registration
  • Lead counsel in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, a Voting Rights Act challenge to Texas’s congressional redistricting plan
  • J.D., Columbia Law School
  • A.B., Brown University
Cornelia Pillard
  • Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
  • Former Professor of Law and Faculty Co-Director, Georgetown Law Supreme Court Institute, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Former Attorney, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • Clerk to Judge Louis H. Pollak, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • J.D., Harvard Law School
  • B.A., Yale University
Katie Porter
  • U.S. Representative, 45th District of California
  • Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine School of Law (on leave)
  • Former Monitor of the National Mortgage Settlement, Office of the Attorney General of the State of California
  • Author of consumer law casebook and a nationally-recognized consumer protection expert
  • Clerk to Judge Richard S. Arnold, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • J.D., Harvard Law School
  • B.A., Yale University
Carlton Reeves
  • Judge, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi
  • Co-Founder, Pigott, Reeves, Johnson, P.A.
  • Former Chief, Civil Division, Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi
  • Clerk to Judge Reuben Anderson, Supreme Court of Mississippi
  • J.D., University of Virginia School of Law
  • B.A., Jackson State University
Thomas A. Saenz
  • President and General Counsel, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • Former Counsel to the Mayor, Office of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
  • Clerk to Judge Stephen Reinhardt, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Clerk to Judge Harry L. Hupp, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  • J.D., Yale Law School
  • B.A., Yale University
Bryan Stevenson
  • Founder and Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative
  • Aronson Family Professor of Criminal Justice, New York University School of Law
  • Former Attorney, Southern Center for Human Rights
  • Author, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
  • J.D., Harvard Law School
  • M.P.P., Harvard University Kennedy School of Government
  • B.A., Eastern College
Zephyr Teachout
  • Associate Professor of Law, Fordham Law School
  • Author, Corruption in America
  • Author, Break ‘Em Up: Recovering Our Freedom from Big Ag, Big Tech, and Big Money (forthcoming)
  • Former National Director, Sunlight Foundation
  • Co-Founding Executive Director, The Fair Trial Initiative
  • Clerk to Chief Judge Edward R. Becker, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • J.D., Duke Law School
  • M.A., Duke University
  • B.A., Yale University
Cecillia Wang
  • Deputy Legal Director and Director, Center for Democracy, ACLU
  • Counsel to plaintiffs challenging the Trump administration’s Muslim ban
  • Former Attorney, Federal Defenders of New York
  • Clerk to retired Justice Harry A. Blackmun, U.S. Supreme Court (working in the chambers of Justice Stephen G. Breyer)
  • Clerk to Judge William A. Norris, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • J.D., Yale Law School
  • A.B., University of California, Berkeley
Timothy Wu
  • Julius Silver Professor of Law, Science and Technology, Columbia Law School
  • Former Special Advisor, National Economic Council, The White House
  • Former Senior Enforcement Counsel and Special Advisor, New York Attorney General's Office
  • Former Senior Advisor, Antitrust and Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission
  • Clerk to Justice Stephen Breyer, U.S. Supreme Court
  • Clerk to Judge Richard Posner, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • J.D., Harvard Law School
  • B.S., McGill University
Jenny Yang
  • Senior Fellow, Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population, Urban Institute
  • Former Chair, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Former Partner, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC
  • Former Senior Trial Attorney, Employment Litigation Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Former Attorney, National Employment Law Project
  • J.D., New York University School of Law
  • B.A., Cornell University