According to a list released by the campaign, Mr. Trump’s potential nominees include several federal judges: Steven M. Colloton of Iowa; Raymond W. Gruender of Missouri; Thomas M. Hardiman of Pennsylvania; William H. Pryor Jr. of Alabama, Diane Sykes of Wisconsin; and Raymond M. Kethledge of Michigan; and several state Supreme Court justices: Allison H. Eid of Colorado; Joan Larsen of Michigan; Thomas Lee of Utah; David Stras of Minnesota; and Don Willett of Texas....Saying the reaction was "mixed," the Times quotes Nan Aron (president of the liberal Alliance for Justice Action Council), who found these people "dangerous" — "some of the most extreme conservatives on the federal bench today" — and Ed Whelan ("a prominent conservative legal commentator") who said it was "a good list of some of the outstanding judges who give ample sign of being faithful to the Constitution." Actually, that sounds like an unmixed reaction: It sounds like the reaction that the potential nominees all seem to be conservative.
As Whelan reminds us, we can't be sure a President Trump will actually pick one of these people or somebody like them. The list is part of the process of trying to get elected. But it's interesting as a political move. I can't remember ever seeing a presidential candidate do a list like this.
The closest thing I can think of is Ronald Reagan's promise in the 1980 campaign that he'd put a woman on the Court. He made an actual pledge, and, by the way, his opponent, President Jimmy Carter didn't like it, calling it "a mistake for a president to promise [to appoint] a particular kind of American." Reagan, of course, followed through on his promise. I remember my father scoffing at my naivete for thinking a politician would keep a campaign promise. (I wasn't a kid at the time. I was 30 years old and had graduated from law school. (And for the record, my father voted for Reagan and I did not.))
But Trump isn't promising. He's just saying these are people "he would consider as potential replacements for Justice Scalia." (At that link, to Trump's website, you'll find a short and very simply written statement of each person's biography.) Since he's not promising, there's nothing to believe or disbelieve. It's another suggestion. As he famously said last week: "Look, anything I say right now — I'm not the president — everything is a suggestion, no matter what you say, it's a suggestion."