Potential Replacements for Souter

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?

Tags: David Souter, SCOTUS, Supreme Court (all tags)

Comments

52 Comments

normally I hate identity politics

but whoever Obama puts on the court should not be a white male. There are plenty of highly qualified legal minds who are not white males.

Just my opinion.

by desmoinesdem 2009-04-30 07:57PM | 0 recs
for what it's worth

Mr. desmoinesdem follows SCOTUS happenings much more closely than I do and thinks Obama's first Supreme Court nominee must be a woman.

by desmoinesdem 2009-04-30 07:59PM | 0 recs
Re: for what it's worth

Agree about the gender part. I think it should be a woman too.

by bruh3 2009-04-30 08:41PM | 0 recs
wtf is wrong with you people?

it should be a native american they aren't represented enough

by theninjagoddess 2009-05-01 01:37AM | 0 recs
Re:

 I would like the nominee to be the one person in the world that would make theninjadickwad the most upset.

by QTG 2009-05-01 01:16PM | 0 recs
Legislative and Political Experience

Claire McCaskill: former county prosecutor, state auditor, now Senator, and active campaigner for Obama.

I totally agree that some real-world experience is needed on a court so larded with academics who have never tried a jury trial; faced the voters; had to compromise to get legislation enacted; or, met a payroll.  Not that intelligence has to be sacrificed, ala Roman Hruska's defense of Nixonian mediocracy; more that intelligence needs to be nuanced with real-world experience.  When the Court interprets legislation it would help to have a legislator (as O'Connor was) who knows how the cake was baked.  When the Court considers criminal or civil rights law, a smart lawyer who has been in the trenches (as Marshall had been) can make sure that the purity of principle does not cripple legal principle as police apply it on the streets.

by Arthurkc 2009-05-01 07:38AM | 0 recs
Re: normally I hate identity politics

Larry Sabato puts the probability of a female candidate at 90%

by LordMike 2009-04-30 10:04PM | 0 recs
Re: normally I hate identity politics

I don't care what they look like as long as they are young and liberal and confirmed.

by MNPundit 2009-04-30 10:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Potential Replacements for Souter

Sen. Russ Feingold.

by notime4lies 2009-04-30 07:59PM | 0 recs
we need him in the Senate

I like the idea of elevating some good federal judge named during the Clinton administration.

by desmoinesdem 2009-04-30 08:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Potential Replacements for Souter

Nobody from Congress.  We dont need anymore open seats.  

by Kent 2009-04-30 09:06PM | 0 recs
Leah Ward Sears

Thought I suspect it'll be Sonia Sotomayor, which is fine by me.

by DTOzone 2009-04-30 08:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Potential Replacements for Souter

I would LOOOOOOVE Dawn Johnsen, just to ram it into the Rethugs who are blackballing her from heading the OLC.

But Sotomayor is fine by me.  She was first nominated to the Federal Bench by GHW bush, and then shamefully blocked by the Rethugs for over a year when Bill Clinton nominated her to her current post in NY's Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

She's a Centrist (yuck) not a Liberal, which might put her in sinc with the useful idiot Anthony Kennedy in helping thugs like Scalia and Roberts puch the SCOTUS rightward.  Sandra Day O'Connor wasn;t a Liberal either:  She was a corporatist much of her career, and I would very much like a good, solid, strong Progressive on the Court.

It seems like AGES since we got a strong Liberal on there:  Souter was a HUGE disappointment to the Right after he came to his senses and began to look at the Law properly instead of the way the GOP told him to.

Come to think of it, NO.  I see no need to placate or play nice with the Rethugs.

Select a good, strong, Liberal, and let them do their worst.  That's what Bush did to us with Roberts and Alito.  

Besides, we win in either case.

by dembluestates 2009-04-30 08:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Potential Replacements for Souter

Put me down for Governor Granholm.  Though she did back Clinton in the primary, so I doubt she'll get it.

by gorebeatbush2 2009-04-30 08:41PM | 0 recs
What does that have to do with anything?

Obama is hardly punishing Clinton supporters from the primary...he has her #1 supporter in the top Cabinet position.

by DTOzone 2009-04-30 08:45PM | 0 recs
Re: What does that have to do with anything?

Well, that was a politically advantageous move for him.  It helped to unite the Party.  Totally different case.

by gorebeatbush2 2009-04-30 09:28PM | 0 recs
I'm thinking Randi Rhodes or Donnna Brazile?

How's that working for ya?

(Moran...)

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-01 04:56AM | 0 recs
Because

the party wasn't already united a month earlier when he, like, WON the election?

by DTOzone 2009-05-01 11:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Because

Ummm...is that a serious comment?  Obviously the Party became united in opposition to the what the alternative was (I know there were a lot of Clinton supporters who voted for Obama, but were not happy about it...but they couldn't sit by and let McCain/Palin take over)...once you win an election, that opposition is defeated and goes away as a threat to take power for many years.  Then when you start governing, the lingering divisions that were overcome by the awful GOP ticket can reemerge if you aren't careful.  Thus, appointing Clinton assured that those lingering divisions would mostly evaporate...and it remove her as a possible opponent in a primary if the Obama administration stumbled.

Does that make sense now?

by gorebeatbush2 2009-05-15 01:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Potential Replacements for Souter

I assume it won't happen this time (because I agree it needs to be a woman and probably Latino), but I would love to see Patrick of MA on the course at some point. Outside of his support of gay rights, the other reason is that as a black guy I would really like to stick it to Thomas. But,t hat's just personal animousity toward Thomas whom I've disliked since he lied in his Senate confirmation hearing.

by bruh3 2009-04-30 08:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Potential Replacements for Souter

How about Bill Clinton himself.  

Talk about kicking the GOP when they are down! :)

by newmexicodem 2009-04-30 08:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Potential Replacements for Souter

1. Too Old

2. Why would he want it?  It would put a crimp in his globetrotting foundations work and speaking, which he apparently loves and does well.

by Strummerson 2009-05-01 04:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Potential Replacements for Souter

Leah Ward of Georgia.

by rikyrah 2009-04-30 09:05PM | 0 recs
One of the most likely candidates

Though I think the pressure to appoint Sotomayor will be very strong...

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-01 05:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Potential Replacements for Souter
This would be my pick as well.
First African American on GA supreme Court, first female, and the youngest
by jsfox 2009-05-01 05:25AM | 0 recs
The youngest IS a really big deal

I hate to be ageist about this, and fingers crossed we have another democratic president in 2016...

But, Bush followed the Federalist Society game plan to the max with Alito and Roberts. Those are 30 years appointments.

We need to do the same with our chances while w have them.

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-01 07:25AM | 0 recs
Remember labor.

Of course, the nominee should be pro-choice, pro-gay, etc., and it would be nice to see a candidate who is not white or male, but a nominee with those qualifications is easy to find.

What I'd like to see is a real pro-labor candidate, too - one that won't interpret federal law as favorable to corporate America at the expense of the rest of us, like they did with Ledbetter.

by Drew 2009-04-30 09:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Potential Replacements for Souter

If Sonia Sotomayor is the political correct nominee given her female and hispanic roots....what exactly is her ideology?  Is she more liberal or more conservative compared to David Souter(the one being replaced?)

by newmexicodem 2009-04-30 09:12PM | 0 recs
Probably about the same

maybe slightly more liberal.

by DTOzone 2009-04-30 09:14PM | 0 recs
(Comment Deleted)

This comment has been deleted by an administrator.

by theninjagoddess 2009-05-01 01:36AM | 0 recs
Re: ¿Cómo se dice...?

Adios!

by QTG 2009-05-01 01:55AM | 0 recs
Re: ¿Cómo se dice...?

if that's bannable then this board ifs full of pussies

by theninjagoddess 2009-05-01 02:19AM | 0 recs
Re: ¿Cómo se dice...?

The point is that we need a few more on the court.  

Oh, wait, you're not using a slang term for female anatomy, but a slang term for female anatomy as a pejorative term for weakness and irrationality.  What a dick move, you inappropriate cock.

by Strummerson 2009-05-01 04:36AM | 0 recs
Re: ¿Cómo se dice...?

Fuck off, thug.

That better for you?

by Endymion 2009-05-01 09:29AM | 0 recs
Really...

 So the GLBT community is being told once again, "Not your turn!"

by QTG 2009-05-01 01:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Really...

honestly, is my political ideology really this fucked up? that groups expect people to dole out appointments to crucial government positions like it's a fucking kudos bar?

seriously, this is fucking stupid

by theninjagoddess 2009-05-01 02:15AM | 0 recs
exlaining the obvious

Please read slowly and carefully.

No one here thinks we should have a less qualified female nominee.

The sentiment you have encountered acknowledges two realities:

1. There are several appealing candidates of both sexes.

2. Though women comprise over 50% of our population, they are vastly under-represented at the highest levels of our national institutions.

Given this situation (I'll recap for you as you may have lost the train of thought, equally qualified male and female candidates and current lack of women represented on the court) it makes good sense to nominate one of the strong female candidates.

If there is a male candidate who is so compellingly, far and away, superior then make that case and I'll be quite pleased.  But most of us don't think such a clear cut case exists.  No one here thinks sex is the sole factor Obama should consider, but a compelling one among others.  Thus your quota remarks are really just ignorant and obfuscating.  Now I know that such complexity may be upsetting to you.  Complexity is hard.  I hope I didn't challenge you too much with this.

If you followed this, even if you remain unconvinced, then this fucking stupid fucking idiot offers you fucking kudos on at least being able to engage a fucking level of political thought that depends on fucking two considerations and not just fucking one.

by Strummerson 2009-05-01 04:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Potential Replacements for Souter

I've written a short list as well. but I'm still working over the names.  I'm thinking Patrick is a no go (he seems to be dead, politically, in MA) and I'm still considering if Politico is right on Sotomayor being the favorite.

by Natch 2009-05-01 06:20AM | 0 recs
Deval Patrick

Kicking him "upstairs" to the Supreme Court might get a better governor of Massachusetts.  Interesting possibility, but a longshot.

by esconded 2009-05-01 06:47AM | 0 recs
How about Kathleen Sullivan?

Former dean of Stanford Law, young, smart, progressive, author of much-used textbook on constitutional law. She's be a terrific choice.

by syntag 2009-05-01 07:08AM | 0 recs
Sadly, it's not going to happen

She WOULD be my pick, because I would love to see the Republicans throw themselves on the flaming pyre of "She's Gay" as the real reason they would oppose her.

But, sadly, I believe Obama is not going to go confrontational here.  

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-01 07:30AM | 0 recs
Not confrontational ...

I've never quite understood the idea that your first offer oughtta placate the opposition. It's like offering a car salesman full price this time, thinking that he'll go easy on your next time. When you're buying your riding unicorn.

by BingoL 2009-05-01 09:11AM | 0 recs
For pure politics

And, I hear those that scream "this should be about the most qualified, not a sop to a particular group..."

Still, I think Sotomayor from a pure political point of view is wonderful.

The Republicans have a terrible problem there.

Oppose the FIRST Hispanic nominated to the court?

Yes, between that and right wing radio screaming that Swine Flu is a Mexican terrorist action, opposing Sotomayor will be political suicide with the Latino poltical community.

You know they will, because even though she is NOT as liberal as Sullivan for example, she is TOO liberal for them (they think Obama should nominate Alito mark II)

Yeah, it sucks to think in terms of politics here, but it's not like that hasn't been sadly the history of USSC picks for the last 30 years.

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-01 07:39AM | 0 recs
Re: For pure politics

Staying purely political, then, who is the most progressive Hispanic possibility? The one that will a) guarantee they go apeshit and b) move that Overton window (pardon the phrase) leftward?

by BingoL 2009-05-01 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: For pure politics

Answering my own question, I'm strongly behind Wardlaw.

And, um, perfect name!

by BingoL 2009-05-01 09:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Potential Replacements for Souter

I've finished my evaluations for potential Supreme Court nominees but I'm interested in hearing what others think.

by Natch 2009-05-01 07:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Potential Replacements for Souter

Me for Wardlaw.

And I intensely dislike Cass 'Even Liberal' Sunstein.

by BingoL 2009-05-01 09:16AM | 0 recs
The bitter log in...

http://www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/p olitics-101/2009/feb/14/ken-starr-obamas -supreme-court-picks-will-face-tro/

Poor Kenny boy...He just KNEW his ass was heading for SCOTUS, then he became the governments most famous pornographer and it all fell apart for him....

You know what Ken. YOU'RE STILL not going to be picked!

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-01 08:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Potential Replacements for Souter

What, no Weddington?

Everyone's talking about either balancing the court or making the Republicans scream...you think any nominee would do either better than Sarah Weddington?

by Endymion 2009-05-01 09:35AM | 0 recs
I got one

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathleen_Su llivan

Openly gay.  History of filing briefs in gay rights cases.

Need I say more?

Plus, she is ACTUALLY on short lists.

I think the WH should float Sullivan, just to scare the crap out of the RR!

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-01 10:16AM | 0 recs
Re: I got one

Are gay people really more scary than abortions?

by Endymion 2009-05-02 08:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Potential Replacements for Souter

During the campaign, Obama mentioned he wanted to pick a candidate who was outside the box.   Right now every judge on the Supreme Court was a Federal Appeal's Court judge before.

Does Obama pick a politician? Does he pick a member of his own Cabinet?    

Then again since this comes days after Arlen Spector joined the Democratic Party and assurances of a 60 vote package....perhaps Obama is confident he can make a bold nomination by picking a relatively liberal nominee.

Are the Spector and Souter announcements coincidental or is that is a clever elaborate plan to ensure confirmation.

by newmexicodem 2009-05-01 11:24AM | 0 recs

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