Anna Moneymaker / The New York Times

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's '54 death leaves a vacancy on the bench that may be filled by another Cornellian.

September 22, 2020

Trump Shortlists Cornell Alumna to Replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54

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The Supreme Court may possibly have its next Cornellian justice: White House Counsel Kate Comerford Todd ’96 is on the shortlist to receive President Donald Trump’s nomination to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54.

Ginsburg was the only Cornellian to ever serve on the Supreme Court. And like Ginsburg, Todd was a government major at Cornell. Todd also studied history and international relations.

After her time on The Hill, Todd went on to Harvard Law School, graduating magna cum laude.

Kate Comerford Todd ’96

Courtesy of Cornell University

Kate Comerford Todd ’96

Todd also was an adjunct assistant professor of constitutional law at the Cornell in Washington program. In a message to The Sun, The University confirmed that Todd taught in the fall of 2005, and in the spring 2004, 2003 and 2005.

Prior to joining the White House as Deputy Counsel to the President in 2019, Todd was Chief Counsel at the United States Chamber Litigation Center, the legal apparatus of the United States Chamber of Commerce. Todd clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas in the Supreme Court, and on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Ginsburg’s death has supercharged an already climatic election cycle. Democrats have promised to wage a confirmation battle against any of Trump’s nominees, but in the Senate the party holds little power to achieve this.

In the Senate, Democrat’s hope of blocking a Trump nominee rests on turning four Republican senators. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have stated that they do not support confirming a justice prior to the Nov. 3 election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has pledged to put a Trump nominee through confirmation hearings.

Trump has said that he will nominate a woman to serve on the high court. At a Saturday night rally in North Carolina, he pledged that “it will be a woman, a very talented, very brilliant woman.”

On Monday, Trump told reporters at the White House that he is down to five names. In addition to Todd, The Wall Street Journal reported that Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, Barbara Lagoa of the 11th Circuit, Allison Jones Rushing of the Fourth Circuit and Joan Larsen of the Sixth Circuit are all contenders. Todd is the only Cornellian on the list, and the only candidate who has never served as a judge.

Trump said his nomination will “probably” be announced on Saturday, The New York Times reported.