Update 1:20 p.m.: After the Huffington Post story was published, Peter Thiel spokesman Jeremiah Hall went beyond his initial comments, issuing the following statement to Forbes and HuffPost: “Huffington Post’s sources are lying. The truth is Peter hasn’t had any conversations about a Supreme Court nomination and has no interest in the job.”
Original post: Rumor has it that Donald Trump has found his dream Supreme Court nominee. According to reporting from the Huffington Post, Trump wants to offer the next open seat to Peter Thiel, the 48-year-old billionaire who was a co-founder of PayPal and investor in Facebook. Thiel spoke glowingly of Trump at the GOP Convention in July, was an early Trump supporter, and was the first person ever at a GOP convention to declare from the stage that he is gay. He would be the first openly gay billionaire Justice at the high court under the age of 50.
HuffPo is careful to caution that these reports did not originate with the Trump campaign and that Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied that Thiel had been offered a Supreme Court seat. It did report, though, that “Donald Trump has made it clear he will nominate Peter Thiel to the Supreme Court if he wins the presidency, Thiel has told friends, according to a source close to the PayPal co-founder.”
Another source told the publication that Trump “deeply loves Peter Thiel,” and also that “people in Trump’s inner circle are talking about him as a Supreme Court nominee.” Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity.
HuffPo reports that Thiel spokesman Jeremiah Hall says Thiel "has no interest in the job."
Thiel is indeed a trained lawyer. He earned a J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1992 and had a clerkship at the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and a seven-month stint at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York.
Thiel is also the man who helped pull the plug on Gawker, the publication that outed him as gay in 2007. He bankrolled the Hulk Hogan lawsuit that sent Gawker Media into bankruptcy earlier this year. Thiel’s extreme libertarian politics are also an interesting thing. In a 2009 essay he wrote for the Cato Institute, he said this:
Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women—two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians—have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.
He later wrote that he did not in fact intend that sentence to mean that he wanted to disenfranchise all women. Thiel has also written that "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible," raising questions about whether, as a someday Supreme Court justice, he would plan on jettisoning freedom or democracy first.