Potential Replacements for Souter
by Jonathan Singer, Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 07:49:41 PM EDT
Nearly two years ago, the good folks at SCOTUS Blog put together a list of potential Supreme Court nominees for a Democratic President (before there was even a Democratic nominee!). Here's what they came up with:
Given those reactions, I am revising my short list of potential appointments for the first seat to: [Solicitor General Elena] Kagan, [Georgia Supreme Court Leah Ward] Sears, [Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sonia] Sotomayor, [Ninth Circuit Cour of Appeals Judge Kim McLane] Wardlaw, and [Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Diane] Wood. The additional names for later seats are: [Michigan Governor Jennifer] Granholm, [D.C. Court of Appeals Judge Merrick] Garland, [South Florida District Court Judge Adalberto] Jordan (assuming an immediate elevation to the Eleventh Circuit), [Massachusetts Governor Deval] Patrick, and [Secretary of the Interior Ken] Salazar.
As for the particular predictions (which truly are wildly speculative), here is my thinking. A Democrat will want to correct the gender imbalance on the Court immediately. There is no reason to defer a Hispanic appointment with two highly qualified Hispanic women available. So the first seat will go to Sotomayor (to whom I now lean) or Wardlaw.
MyDD Blog Talk Radio host Adam Conner adds the name Sandra Day O'Connor (though at least somewhat sarcastically, presumably).
For my money -- and I have written about this topic recently on this site -- I think it is incumbent on President Obama not only to name a very capable nominee, but also a young one to combat the growing trend of GOP Presidents to appoint (relatively) young ardent conservatives to the Court.
What's more -- and I have also written about this topic before, though a long while ago -- I think President Obama would be well served by looking beyond the list of jurists and academics by also considering sharp legal minds with legislative experience. There is definitely historical precedent for such a move. As of the last time I checked the numbers back in October 2005 (so it would be slightly different with the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, but not too different), two-fifths of all Supreme Court justices had spent time in a legislature, including one-fifth who had served in Congress.
Who would you like to see on the Supreme Court? What qualifications and values should President Obama's nominee embody?