[WASHINGTON] Presumptive Republican US presidential nominee Donald Trump on Wednesday released the names of 11 judges he would consider, if elected, to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in February.
Scalia's replacement could tip the ideological balance of the court, which now is evenly divided with four conservative justices and four liberals.
It is unusual for a presidential candidate to release names of potential nominees to the high court or Cabinet positions before winning an election.
But Mr Trump is working to assure conservatives in own party that if elected he would not appoint a liberal or moderate judge to the court. Mr Trump allies have encouraged him to name potential judges in order to allay those fears.
Mr Trump's list includes: Steven Colloton of Iowa, Allison Eid of Colorado, Raymond Gruender of Missouri, Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, Joan Larsen of Michigan, Thomas Lee of Utah, William Pryor of Alabama, David Stras of Minnesota, Diane Sykes of Wisconsin and Don Willett of Texas.
President Barack Obama in March named centrist appellate court judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy, but the Republican-led Senate has refusing to hold confirmation hearings or a vote, insisting that Obama's successor chosen by voters in the Nov 8 election should pick Scalia's replacement.
Mr Trump said in a statement that his "list of potential Supreme Court justices is representative of the kind of constitutional principles I value and, as President, I plan to use this list as a guide to nominate our next United States Supreme Court Justices."
The risk for Mr Trump is that public scrutiny of the names on the list could produce criticism within his own party and from Democrats, who will likely tie Mr Trump to all of the judges'previous positions.