Amul Thapar: Trump Country's Perfect SCOTUS Choice

Amul Thapar: Trump Country's Perfect SCOTUS Choice
AP Photo/Ed Reinke, File
Amul Thapar: Trump Country's Perfect SCOTUS Choice
AP Photo/Ed Reinke, File
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President Trump — already a conservative hero for appointing Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court and for his swift remaking of the federal appellate courts — can again make history by choosing Judge Amul Thapar of Kentucky to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Thapar, the son of Indian immigrants who came to America legally, is the product of public schools in Toledo, Ohio. He was the first ever judge of South Asian descent appointed to the federal bench and would be the first person of any Asian heritage appointed to the Supreme Court.

Thapar is a history-making choice for a president who loves to make history. Trump often zigs when other presidents would have zagged, as the Washington Post noted this weekend, and he can again defy “the swamp” by appointing someone like Thapar who is squarely from outside of it.

For conservatives, Thapar is a dream choice. He’s an originalist, a term associated with Justices Clarence Thomas, Gorsuch and the late Antonin Scalia. Imagine a Supreme Court where the two leading conservative originalists are an African-American and an Indian-American. Trump can absolutely shatter the stereotypes liberals throw at Republicans by having Thapar join Thomas to defend and indeed crusade for the U.S. Constitution.

Thapar would become the youngest member of the Supreme Court at 49, but don’t let his youth fool you. He has an extensive record of distinguished public service — a prosecutor in Ohio, U.S. attorney in Kentucky, trial-court judge, and current judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. He’s thoroughly vetted (confirmed three times by the Senate already) and was even a short-lister for Scalia’s seat last time around.

Thapar is a real dude. He and his wife are raising three kids in parochial schools, and the only thing he likes talking about more than the Constitution are the sports and academic exploits of his children. He is a serious family man -- values instilled in him by his parents. His dad was a heating and air conditioning guy in Toledo, and Thapar spent a summer driving a truck for his company. His mom sold her successful restaurant after 9/11 to become a social worker with the U.S. Army to help Special Forces and other heroes transition home from the battlefield.

Thapar loves America because his parents taught him to love America. His family history exemplifies the promise of the United States and the magic of what the Founders intended – a dynamic, free country where hard work and playing by the rules give you every chance to achieve your dreams.

Like his mom, Thapar was also moved by the events of 9/11. On that fateful morning, while still in private practice, he boarded a plane to do some legal work in Los Angeles. About an hour into the flight, the pilot told the passengers that President Bush had ordered all planes grounded. He finally landed in St. Louis and was so moved by the events of the day that he immediately put his name into the hopper for an open federal prosecutor job. He wound up chasing terrorists and their dollars through a series of white-collar investigations and prosecutions and has been in public service ever since.

Thapar spends his free time teaching and lecturing. He teaches at the University of Virginia Law School on the judicial philosophies of Scalia and Thomas and speaks frequently on originalism and textualism at Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and other leading law schools. Thapar didn’t graduate from an Ivy League college, but he’s treated like a rock star on their campuses by aspiring conservative lawyers. If the president is looking for Ivy League credentials, he gets the best of both worlds with Thapar – someone from the middle of Trump Country who knows his way around those campuses.

Liberals are already freaking out about Thapar. They are so worried about him, in fact, that liberal donors are funding an ad campaign against him before he’s even been chosen. If the president is looking to torment the people most unhappy with his presidency, Thapar is a great choice.

Thapar is known as a great legal writer and a good judge of law clerks, a vital trait for Supreme Court justices. Scalia, Thomas, John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, and many other top judges have picked his clerks to serve in their chambers.

For an unexpected president, Thapar is the perfect unexpected choice. He’s not from the swamp — he represents Middle America, just like the president. Just as Trump has injected a dose of Flyover Country realism into Washington, so too would Thapar to an institution often associated with coastal elites.

The son of immigrants raised in Toledo, who sits on a federal appeals court that covers the heart of Trump Country (Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan). A rock-solid conservative and defender of the U.S. Constitution. A conservative jurist who reveres Clarence Thomas. A justice who will be on the Supreme Court for at least 30 years.

The president is looking at a very good list of highly qualified people. He can’t do any better than Amul Thapar, a history-making choice.

Scott Jennings can be reached on Twitter at @scottjenningsky or via email at

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