Trump floats more potential Supreme Court picks — including Sen. Mike Lee

Story highlights

  • The Trump campaign released a list of judicial nominations bringing their count to 21 names from the previous 10
  • Trump often reminds conservatives of the importance of the president's power to fill court vacancies

(CNN)Donald Trump is expanding the list of individuals he would consider naming to the Supreme Court, just days before the first presidential debate, in what appears to be his latest effort to shore up Republican and minority support.

Trump's latest additions put a sitting Republican senator who isn't supporting Trump and three non-white judges onto Trump's list of potential Supreme Court nominees, bringing the list to 21 names from the previous 10.
The list, which Trump is set to release later Friday, includes: Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, US Court of Appeals Judge Margaret Ryan, Iowa Supreme Court Justice Edward Mansfield, George Supreme Court Justice Keith Blackwell, Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Candy, US Court of Appeals Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich, US District Court Judge Amul Thapar, US District Court Judge Federico Moreno and Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young.
    A Trump campaign aide confirmed the list, which was first reported Friday morning by NBC News.
    The unusual move to release a list, rather than simply naming the kinds of justices he would seek to nominate, as nearly all presidential nominees, including his rival Hillary Clinton, have done, is part of his efforts to reassure conservatives in his candidacy.
    Trump has repeatedly reminded conservatives wary of his candidacy of the importance of the President's power to fill Supreme Court vacancies in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia's death earlier this year and as two justices on the bench are now over 80 years old.
    Trump's latest additions appear to be continuing reassurance to conservatives.
    "Donald Trump continues to take unprecedented steps to demonstrate that he intends to appoint justices like Scalia, Thomas, and Alito. Conservatives should be very pleased by the steps he has taken, and if he lives up to his promises we will have a Court that truly puts the rule of law ahead of political preferences," said Carrie Severino, of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network.

    Mike Lee: thanks, but no thanks

    Trump's pick of Lee, the Utah senator who is one of the last remaining Trump holdouts among Senate Republicans, appears to be a bid to gain not just Lee's support but also that of Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who fought Trump for the GOP nomination until May and refused to endorse him during his speech at the Republican National Convention in July.
    Cruz has continued to resist entreaties to endorse the Republican nominee, but he did meet last week with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump's running mate. Cruz's spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.
    Lee, meanwhile, isn't biting.
    "Sen. Lee already has the job he wants which is why he is campaigning to represent the great people of Utah again this year. This new list does not change Sen. Lee's mind about Trump in any way whatsoever," Lee spokesman Conn Caroll said in a statement.
    Lee's brother, an associate justice on the Utah Supreme Court, was listed in Trump's initial batch of 11 potential Supreme Court picks.

    Previous list was all-white

    Trump's list also brings diversity to his previous all-white cast of potential Supreme Court picks, just as Trump has ramped up his efforts in the last month to appeal to minority voters -- many of whom he has offended during his presidential campaign.
    Thapar, a US district court judge, was the first South Asian to be named to an Article III federal judgeship in 2007.
    Moreno, who serves on the district court for the southern district of Florida, is Hispanic and was born in Venezuela.
    And Robert Young, the Michigan supreme court's chief justice, is African-American.
    Trump also added a military veteran to his list by naming Ryan, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, as another potential pick.