Ronald D. Castille, the retired chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, wants to be Philadelphia's next top federal prosecutor.
In an interview Monday, the 72-year-old put his name forward to replace U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger, who has not announced his plans but likely will leave the job under the administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
It is unclear whether Castille, who publicly chastised Trump for his treatment of veterans and broke with fellow Republicans on the court on several high-profile decisions, is being considered for the job.
"I'm ready to do something else," he said. "I'm not ready to go into retirement just yet. I've taken some time off and rested up after my grueling last few years on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court."
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, working with federal agencies including the FBI, the IRS, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, has broad investigative and prosecutorial powers in Philadelphia and eight surrounding counties.
The post traditionally goes to a member of the president's political party, with the White House often turning to a state's U.S. senators for guidance in filling it.
Already, Peter J. Smith and David J. Hickton, the U.S. attorneys for Pennsylvania's two other federal judicial districts, have announced their retirements.
Memeger could decide to stay on through at least part of the new administration, should the Trump White House not immediately ask for his resignation.
Sens. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) and Bob Casey (D., Pa.) have not said whether they have begun compiling a short list of replacements.
Several potential candidates have been suggested in legal circles, including Delaware County District Attorney John J. Whelan; James Schultz, general counsel under Gov. Tom Corbett; Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan; and former federal prosecutors William McSwain, now with the Center City law firm Drinker, Biddle & Reath, and Joseph Poluka, now with Blank Rome.
"I don't think they have the breadth of experience that I have and the prestige that I could give to that office," Castille said Monday.
Castille, a former Marine rifle platoon commander who lost a leg in Vietnam, began his political career as Philadelphia district attorney in the 1980s. Since his departure from the Supreme Court in 2014, he has publicly bristled at the state's mandatory retirement age for judges, which he said forced him from the bench before he was ready to leave.
He said several political supporters had urged him to consider the U.S. attorney's position.
He would not name names, but his backers have included U.S. Rep. Tom Marino (R., Pa.), who serves on Trump's transition team, and U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, a former U.S. attorney for the region during George W. Bush's presidency.
His interest in the job was first reported by the Legal Intelligencer.
Castille's stances on and off the bench could throw roadblocks in his path to a potential nomination.
In a letter published Aug. 4 in the Inquirer, he criticized Trump's multiple bankruptcies and denounced his attacks on the parents of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim American soldier who died in the Iraq War, as "a new low for the candidate."
"I am a Republican, and I have been a Republican candidate in five city elections and five statewide elections, but I'm not voting for Donald Trump for president," he wrote.
Castille also at times disappointed members of his own party during his two decades on the Supreme Court, ruling against positions backed by GOP leaders in high-profile cases such as challenges to the state's Voter ID law and Republican-drawn redistricting maps.
He upended a key piece of Corbett's economic policy in 2013 by throwing out rules favored by drillers in the Marcellus Shale that allowed energy companies to disregard local zoning laws.
Castille said Monday that his record of occasionally separating from his party was an asset rather than a liability.
"I've shown my independence over the years," he said. "I'm not totally partisan. I've always wanted to do the right thing, even if it was not always in my political favor."
As for his criticism of Trump, Castille pointed to the president-elect's meeting over the weekend with former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, one of Trump's most vocal critics during the campaign.
"He met with Romney and look at the things he actually said," Castille said. "Trump is the president now, and if he needs some help, I think I could be a good U.S. attorney."