While many people are evaluating the election’s impact on the Supreme Court, closer to home, President-Elect Trump will have a seat to fill at the Sixth Circuit. As we reported, President Obama nominated Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Lisabeth T. Hughes for the Sixth Circuit vacancy created by Judge Martin’s retirement. The Sixth Circuit seats are typically distributed geographically, and that means that the open slot belongs to Kentucky by tradition. So the question becomes, who might President-Elect Trump tap for the open seat, assuming (as is almost certain) that Justice Hughes will not get confirmed before the changeover in administration? We suspect that the odds favor current Eastern District of Kentucky Judge Amul Thapar.
In the list of potential Supreme Court nominees that Mr. Trump circulated prior to the election, Judge Thapar was identified as one of the only district judges to make the cut. That means he has attracted the attention of someone in the Trump inner circle. If he does not get the nod for the Supreme Court, it seems quite possible that he would be the front runner to be nominated to the Sixth Circuit. It remains to be seen whether this will happen, or if so how quickly. The new administration will have a lot of work on its hands come January, and it is not clear how quickly they will move on open judicial vacancies. But we will be focused on this and keep readers apprised of any developments.