Donald Trump eyes a Georgia judge as a Supreme Court contender

July 19, 2012 - Atlanta - Gov. Nathan Deal swore in the state's newest member of the Georgia Supreme Court -- Keith Blackwell -- in a ceremony in the House chambers at the Capitol. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Gov. Nathan Deal swears in Keith Blackwell in 2012.  BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Republican Donald Trump released an expanded list of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees on Friday that includes the name of a conservative Georgia jurist.

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Keith Blackwell is on the New York businessman’s updated list of High Court contenders that also includes U.S. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, an outspoken Trump critic, and Federico Moreno, one of the first Hispanic judges appointed to the federal bench in Florida.

Blackwell, a former Cobb County prosecutor and state Court of Appeals judge, was tapped to the state’s top bench in 2012 by Gov. Nathan Deal. He is Deal’s only appointee to the Georgia Supreme Court, though the governor is set to make three new appointments to the newly-expanded bench this year and at least one more before his term ends in 2019.

Candidates don’t typically release a short-list of potential Supreme Court bench, but Trump unveiled an initial list that included the names of 11 finalists in May as he tried to calm concerns as he tried to calm concerns that he wouldn’t select conservative jurists to the bench.

The expanded group that includes Blackwell and nine other names was released Friday and Trump called it a “definitive” list he would use to tap a nominee. He said conservative groups, including the Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society, helped his campaign come up with the potential picks.

The fate of the U.S. Supreme Court has become a campaign mainstay of Trump in the final stretch before the election. Trump has frequently reminded his Republican critics who are gravitating toward Hillary Clinton or considering sitting out the race that the makeup of the Supreme Court is on the line, and even some of his most ardent skeptics in Georgia say they are backing him primarily because they are worried about the judiciary’s future. 


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