Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Friday released an expanded list of potential U.S. Supreme Court picks — a list that includes Sen. Mike Lee, a close friend and ally of Sen. Ted Cruz, who is one of the highest-profile Republicans yet to endorse Mr. Trump.
The announcement of the expanded list comes just days before the first presidential debate between Mr. Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Trump said his list, which now totals 21 potential justices, is “definitive” and that he would only pick justices for the Supreme Court who are on it.
“We have a very clear choice in this election. The freedoms we cherish and the constitutional values and principles our country was founded on are in jeopardy,” Mr. Trump said.
“The responsibility is greater than ever to protect and uphold these freedoms and I will appoint justices, who like Justice [Antonin] Scalia, will protect our liberty with the highest regard for the Constitution,” he said.
In addition to Mr. Lee, newly-announced names are:
• Judge Neil Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
• Judge Margaret Ryan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
• Justice Edward Mansfield of the Iowa Supreme Court.
• Justice Keith Blackwell of the Supreme Court of Georgia.
• Justice Charles Canady of the Supreme Court of Florida.
• Judge Timothy Tymkovich, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
• Judge Amul Thapar of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
• Judge Federico Moreno of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
• Justice Robert Young, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Michigan.
“I would like to thank the Federalist Society, The Heritage Foundation and the many other individuals who helped in composing this list of twenty-one highly respected people who are the kind of scholars that we need to preserve the very core of our country, and make it greater than ever before,” Mr. Trump said.
Neither Mr. Lee nor Mr. Cruz have formally endorsed Mr. Trump for president, and Mr. Lee’s office said the news isn’t changing things.
“Sen Lee already has the job he wants, which is why he is campaigning to represent the great people of Utah again this year,” said Lee spokesman Conn Carroll. “This new list does not change Sen Lee’s mind about Trump in any way whatsoever.”
Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, said Mr. Trump continues to take “unprecedented steps” to demonstrate he intends to appoint justices in the mold of Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Samuel Alito, and, as Mr. Trump mentioned, the recently deceased Scalia.
“Conservatives should be very pleased by the steps he has taken, and if he lives up to his promises, we will have a court that truly puts the rule of law ahead of political preferences,” Ms. Severino said.
Mr. Lee and Ms. Severino, along with many conservatives, had praised Mr. Trump’s earlier list of potential nominees.
Mr. Trump’s earlier list, released in May, included 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.
Justice Lee, an associate justice of the Utah Supreme Court, is the brother of Mike Lee, the senator.
Mr. Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush are several former 2016 GOP rivals of Mr. Trump who have yet to endorse him.
Mr. Cruz said on Twitter earlier this week he appreciated the Trump campaign’s support of congressional Republicans’ efforts to stop coming changes to certain internet domain name controls.
During a prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention in July, Mr. Cruz was greeted with a chorus of boos as the crowd started to realize toward the end of the address that he would not be offering an endorsement of Mr. Trump in the speech.