“I don’t think that given the current composition of the court it’s necessary to nominate a woman,” Leo told POLITICO on Thursday. “I really think this decision depends most heavily upon whether there is a female candidate who is really extraordinary. The relevant question would be: Are there female candidates who distinguish themselves in that way and fit very well within that Gorsuch model, perhaps better than male candidates?”

Leo also said he was confident that any effort to tar a female nominee as anti-woman would fall flat.

“If Democrats and the left choose to undertake that strategy in the face of a female nominee, I suspect they’re going to look rather foolish,” he said. “The interesting question is not whether that strategy could be overcome. The interesting question is whether anyone would be stupid enough to invoke it in the face of a serious female nominee.”