WASHINGTON, DC—President Donald Trump nominated his eighth wave of judicial nominees on Thursday, including four nominees to the federal appeals court covering much of the South.
The White House released the names of nine federal court nominees, as the president continues to work to fill roughly 150 judicial vacancies nationwide. Four of today’s nominations are for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which covers Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
One of the Fifth Circuit nominees is James Ho, the former Texas solicitor general. A naturalized citizen who immigrated to the United States from Taiwan as a child, Ho is a graduate of University of Chicago Law School, and formerly clerked for Fifth Circuit Judge Jerry Smith and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. He then served in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and Civil Rights Division. Currently a partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, he is married to Allyson Ho, chair of the Supreme Court practice group at Morgan Lewis & Bockius, one of the rising stars in the national conservative legal community.
Another Fifth Circuit nominee is Justice Don Willett, who currently serves as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court. Willett is well known as a conservative hero on a host of issues, and was on President Trump’s list of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees. Willett is also known for his comical tweets, including ribbing then-candidate Trump in a Star Wars spoof by tweeting with a picture of the Death Star, “We’ll rebuild the Death Star. It’ll be amazing, believe me. And the rebels will pay for it.—Darth Trump.”
The third Fifth Circuit nominee is Kyle Duncan, the former Louisiana solicitor general. A former law professor at the University of Mississippi who previously clerked for a Fifth Circuit judge, Duncan has also argued two major cases at the U.S. Supreme Court.
The fourth and final nominee to the Fifth Circuit is Judge Kurt Engelhardt, currently serving on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. He was appointed to the federal trial bench by President George W. Bush in 2001.
Each of these nominations are for lifetime appointments. President Trump also made three nominations to the U.S. district courts, one for the Court of Federal Claims, and one for the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
Thursday’s nominations come on the same day that the U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Ralph Erickson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
“Top to bottom, this is an extraordinary list of judicial nominees,” said Carrie Severino, chief counsel at the Judicial Crisis Network, which is the leading organization for getting originalist judges appointed to the federal judiciary. “President Trump continues to hit grand slams in an area that unites and excites Republicans.”
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.