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Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump unveiled Wednesday his revamped list of potential Supreme Court justices that includes 20 new names, including Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Why it matters: Top aides and advisers to the president urged him months ago to put together a new list of justices ahead of Election Day to pump up his base and remind them why a Republican needs to remain in the White House.

What they're saying: Cotton said in a statement that he was "honored" by the selection and added that he believes "the Supreme Court could use some more justices who understand the difference between applying the law and making the law."

  • Cruz said in a statement that he is "grateful for the president’s confidence in me and for his leadership in nominating principled constitutionalists to the federal bench."
  • Hawley tweeted that he has "no interest in the high court" and will "look forward to confirming constitutional conservatives" as a member of the Senate.

The other additions:

  • Bridget Bade, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Paul Clement, partner with Kirkland & Ellis LLP
  • Stuart Kyle Duncan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • Steven Engel, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel
  • Noel Francisco, former U.S. solicitor general
  • James Ho, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • Gregory Katsas, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • Barbara Lagoa, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • Christopher Landau, U.S. ambassador to Mexico
  • Carlos Muñiz, Supreme Court of Florida
  • Martha Pacold, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • Peter Phipps, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • Sarah Pitlyk, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
  • Allison Jones Rushing, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • Kate Todd, deputy White House counsel
  • Lawrence VanDyke, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

What we're hearing: Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who has long been viewed in Trumpworld as next in line to fill a vacancy on the bench, is still at the top of the list after her inclusion on Trump's original list, along with Judge Amul Thapar and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

  • Many within the conservative movement have been lobbying the Trump administration to give more consideration to Lee, especially after his performance fiercely defending the Constitution during Trump's impeachment proceedings, one source familiar with the discussions tells Axios.

Behind the scenes: The list's release was originally slated to take place prior to the Republican National Convention — providing another talking point for Trump's re-election campaign.

  • White House Counsel Pat Cipollone played a big role in the creation of the list, sources involved in the process tell Axios.

The bottom line: "The list is a political statement as much as a working document," one of the sources said. “You're trying to create as many touch points as possible to people who you want to re-elect him as president, and energize them to help him get re-elected."

  • "But secondly, it is a working document, in the sense that he’s making a commitment to pick from the list, so you can't just throw it to the political wind. You have to be committed to only putting people on the list that you’ll be comfortable appointing to the court.”

Go deeper

Trump's judicial legacy will block Biden's

Data: Federal Judicial CenterU.S. Courts; Note: Trump data is through Dec. 1, 2002; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump’s astounding record of judicial appointments will not only reshape the judiciary for a generation, but it will likely deny President-elect Joe Biden the chance to put much of his own stamp on the courts.

Dec 18, 2020 - Health

Supreme Court denies religious school challenge to Kentucky's COVID-19 restrictions

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (right). Photo: Jon Cherry via Getty

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to block Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order halting in-person instruction at most K-12 schools, including religious schools, through the end of the year, noting that the order "effectively expires this week or shortly thereafter."

Why it matters: The decision follows several cases that examined whether state coronavirus restrictions affecting religious institutions, including places of worship violate, the First Amendment.

Dec 17, 2020 - Sports

Knives out for the NCAA

The U.S. Supreme Court Building. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The NCAA's strict limits on college athletes' compensation get less tenable every day.

Driving the news: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case challenging the NCAA's ban on certain education-related benefits, like laptops and scholarships for graduate school.