After Anthony Scalia died unexpectedly in 2016, and after Republicans successfully thwarted Barack Obama’s nominee for the seat, Donald Trump tapped Neil Gorsuch, a conservative judge and law professor from deep-blue Boulder, as Scalia’s replacement.
With this week’s announcement that Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring, one question now is whether Trump will pick another Coloradan to replace him.
The president has developed a list of 25 potential justices, including two Coloradans: Allison Eid and Timothy Tymkovich, both of whom sit on the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On Friday, Trump said he’d narrowed that list to “about five” people — two of them women — as potential Kennedy replacements. He plans to announce his decision by July 9.
Tymkovich is a third-generation Coloradan and graduate of Broomfield High, Colorado College and the University of Colorado’s Wolf Law School. George W. Bush nominated him in 2003 for the 10th Circuit.
But Eid has U.S. Senator Cory Gardner in her corner. The Republican senator from Yuma already has implored Trump to pick Eid. Gardner attended CU’s Wolf Law School when Eid was teaching there.
“While there are many high-caliber candidates, I know (Eid) will ensure your mark is unambiguously aligned with your judicial philosophy,” Gardner wrote in a letter to Trump just one day after Kennedy announced his retirement.
The other women on the list are Indiana’s Amy Coney Barrett and Wisconsin’s Diane Sykes, who both sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Georgia’s Britt Grant, who sits on the state Supreme Court; Virginia’s Margaret Ryan, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces; and Michigan’s Joan Larsen, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Pundits already are laying odds that the two female judges Trump is most likely to nominate are Coney Barrett and Larsen, both former Scalia clerks. The conservative online magazine The Federalist, in its weighing of the candidates, also said that Gorsuch’s nomination “makes it less likely Trump will tap yet another Westerner for the Court.”
Eid, a native of Spokane, Wash., was appointed in 2006 to Colorado’s Supreme Court by Bill Owens, the only Republican governor the state’s had in four decades. She came highly recommended to Owens by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, for whom Eid clerked in 1993 and 1994, and Eid’s husband, Troy, formerly served as legal counsel to Owens.
“Her performance was simply outstanding,” Thomas said of Eid’s clerkship.
In a 2006 Rocky Mountain News story, Thomas was quoted saying Eid stood out for her “intelligence, honesty, skill at working with others, her humility and her laugh.”
Eid, 53, has held a lot of jobs in Colorado, including solicitor general, commercial and appellate lawyer with the Denver office of Arnold & Porter and chief legal officer for then-Attorney General John Suthers, the current Republican mayor of Colorado Springs.
She was a tenured law professor at the CU, where she taught constitutional law, torts and legislation. She’s been outspoken in favor of tort reform, which, among other things, would cap the amount of money injured people can win in lawsuits. It’s a favorite cause of many Republicans.
“She’s quite politically conservative,” said Richard Collins, a professor of constitutional law at CU, who served on the faculty with Eid. After being appointed by Owens to the state Supreme Court, Collins said, Eid “was a steady conservative vote, but nothing remarkable.”
Sen. Gardner effusively sang Eid’s praises in 2017 as well, recommending her to replace Gorsuch on the Circuit Court. After Trump nominated her for the job, she was confirmed by the Senate in a 56-41 vote. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet was one of just four Democrats who voted for her. The same foursome also broke from the Democratic side to vote in favor of Gorsuch’s confirmation.
In 2017, when her appointment to the Circuit Court was still pending, the progressive coalition Alliance for Justice wrote, in opposing her confirmation, “Eid’s record reveals a jurist who, to an extraordinary degree, adheres to a rigid, ultraconservative partisan ideology.
“Both in academia and on the Colorado Supreme Court, she sided with Republicans in trying to prevent the creation of more competitive congressional districts and in working to undermine campaign finance laws.”
In one Colorado Supreme Court case, Eid dissented when the majority voted to eliminate a program that let parents of schoolchildren benefit from state funding to send their kids to religious institutions.
She was the lone dissenting vote in a case of Congressional redistricting. The effort she opposed had the effect of making districts more competitive and less prone to domination by one party over another.
Eid’s votes on the state’s high court have also shown her to be sympathetic to fossil fuel-producing companies seeking to use eminent domain to develop pipelines.
She has no voting record on abortion. In a 2013 Colorado Supreme Court case, she voted in favor of hearing an appeal of an injunction against public displays of graphic abortion images. The case was never heard, but a vote against hearing the appeal would have been tantamount to an approval of the injunction.
Eid is a mother of two — and raised by a single mom — and a graduate of both Stanford and the University of Chicago.
If Trump nominates her and she is confirmed by the Senate, she’ll fill the seat of a man her former Colorado neighbor and Tenth Circuit colleague Gorsuch once clerked for.