Indian American jurist Amul Thapar remains on President Donald Trump’s shortlist for a Supreme Court nomination, should a vacancy arise.
Trump released a new list of potential nominees Sept. 9, which did not include Thapar’s name. But CNN reported that Thapar and Judge Amy Coney Barrett were on a previously-released list and are considered leading contenders for a possible nomination.
In a statement released by the White House Sept. 9 announcing the new potential nominees, Trump said: “There is a growing radical-left movement that rejects the principle of equal treatment under law. If this extreme movement is granted a majority on the Supreme Court, it will fundamentally transform America without a single vote of Congress.”
“Radical justices will erase the Second Amendment, silence political speech, and require taxpayers to fund extreme late-term abortion. They will give unelected bureaucrats that power to destroy millions of American jobs. They will remove the words ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance.”
“They will unilaterally declare the death penalty unconstitutional, even for the most depraved mass murderers. They will erase national borders, cripple police departments, and grant new protections to anarchists, rioters, violent criminals, and terrorists,” said the president.
He slammed Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden for not releasing his list of potential Supreme Court nominees. “He knows the names are so extremely far left that they could never withstand public scrutiny or receive acceptance. He must release a list of justices for people to properly make a decision as to how they will vote,” said Trump.
Thapar is the first Indian American to serve on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the second Indian American federal appellate court judge in U.S. history. He is a friend of Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. The Alliance for Justice has dubbed him “ultraconservative.”
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights – now led by Indian American civil rights activist Vanita Gupta beginning in June – noted in May 2017 that as Thapar was undergoing his Senate confirmation process for the Appeals Court seat, the jurist had a history of controversial rulings, including a case in which he allowed a diabetic inmate to continue to be denied insulin.
Thapar also sentenced three pacifists — including an 82-year-old nun — to lengthy prison terms after they broke into a nuclear power plant in Oakridge, Tennessee, and spray-painted peace slogans, noted the Leadership Conference.
In August, Thapar wrote the dissenting opinion in a case involving a prisoner’s claim of excessive use of force by prison guards. A lower court had ruled against the prisoner, Allen Wiley — who is incarcerated in Kentucky — had not exhausted all of his legal remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act.
In the lawsuit, which he filed on his own behalf, Wiley said that he had been pushed by prison guards against a concrete wall. Another placed metal restraints on him causing his arms to swell. When he fell to the ground, Wiley claimed that a guard “started twisting” his ankle and forced him to walk. When he fell another time, he stated, another guard “shot Wiley” with a taser, after which the first guard grabbed him by the shirt and “dragged him across the concrete floor.
The majority of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Wiley, stating that legal remedies were not available. Thapar dissented, saying the grievance process was available to the prisoner, and therefore, his lawsuit against the state’s Correction Board should be thrown out, as determined by the lower court.
The South Asian Bar Association of North America and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association have lauded the judge.
Vichal Kumar, president of SABA-NA, noted during Thapar’s Senate confirmation for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals: "Judge Thapar's confirmation further cements his legacy as a pioneer, esteemed jurist and dedicated public servant. We anticipate that Judge Thapar's renowned dedication to his craft and commendable judicial temperament will serve him well in this integral position."
SABA awarded Thapar its Pioneer Award in 2010. NAPABA awarded Thapar its Trailblazer Award in 2015.