New Supreme Court nominee speculation thread

MSNBC's First Read reported today:

Per NBC’s Pete Williams and Savannah Guthrie, administration officials say at least eight names are on President Obama’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees. Six are women and two men. The names: U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Diane Wood of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Merrick Garland of the DC Court of Appeals, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, former George Supreme Court Chief Judge Leah Ward Sears, Sidney Thomas of the 9th Circuit, and Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow. Of these names, people outside the government but familiar with White House thinking say the serious contenders are Kagan, Wood, Garland, Napolitano, and Granholm. Guthrie adds that Obama is likely to meet next week with key senators to discuss the vacancy. Many of the new additions are about interest group appeasement. And note the growing concern in the liberal/progressive blogosphere about Kagan.

One person who doesn't sound concerned about Kagan is Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina:

“I like her,” he said, quickly adding, “and that might hurt her chances.”

Graham, whose support for Justice Sonia Sotomayor last summer was a turning point in her confirmation process, said he liked Kagan’s answers about national security and the president’s broad authority to detain enemy combatants when she was going through her own Senate confirmation.

Both of President Bill Clinton's Supreme Court nominees had received a private stamp of approval from key Republican Senator Orrin Hatch. My hunch is that Graham's kind words for Kagan help her chances with President Obama. He loves to position himself as a moderate between the left and the right.

What do you think?

UPDATE: Chris Bowers made the case for Sears here.

Tags: SCOTUS, Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court, Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch, Elena Kagan, Diane Wood, Merrick Garland, Janet Napolitano, Jennifer Granholm, Leah Ward Sears, Leah Sears, Sidney Thomas, Martha Minow, John Paul Stevens, Senate, Congress, Barack Obama, Confirmation, Barack Obama, Confirmation (all tags)



RE: New Supreme Court nominee speculation thread

I think there are always names on the short list so that the President can tell people that yes, such-and-such-a-person was on the short list. The real list is probably just 5-6 names - the original three, maybe Granholm and Napolitano.

by Nathan Empsall 2010-04-13 06:01PM | 1 recs
RE: New Supreme Court nominee speculation thread

Andy Stern! :P

by Nathan Empsall 2010-04-13 06:01PM | 3 recs
I'm not worried

about Kagan either.

I am worried about Leah Ward Sears though. Better to save the "moderate with a progressive streak" for when a Scalia or Kennedy retires or there are less than 51 dems in the senate.

by vecky 2010-04-13 06:18PM | 1 recs

Politically, I get the impression that Obama doesn't want a Supreme Court fight right now. But I also think it's unlikely that Obama concedes a moderate at this stage. Democrats still have a Senate caucus in the upper 50's depending on which way the wind is blowing, and I do think that after all the initial uproar, the "gang of 14"* will hold together.

I also think it is an oversimplification to describe Obama's choice in terms of the one dimension left versus moderate. I think Obama probably puts a little more thought into the matter than who is the most leftward nominee he can get through without too much hassle. Obama first has to ask who is most qualified to serve on the court. Then he has to try and guage how will hsi nominee influence the court over time in a desirable way. There is a real history of justices changing their leanings over time and influencing other swing votes.

* I'm not sure how many of these 14 are left.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-04-13 09:08PM | 1 recs
RE: Agreed

After reading Bowers defend Sears but trash Kagan I got the impression Rahm Emmanuel was just laughing at us.

And I don't see why anyone is bothering with what Senators Kyle, Sessions, Hatch and other conservatives have to say. The only republicans the media should ask are Lugar, Snowe & Collins & maybe Brown. And Holy Joe because he likes to be a d!ck just for kicks. It's only if those guys are going to filibuster that it matters.

by vecky 2010-04-13 09:43PM | 1 recs
RE: Agreed

Holy Joe is gearing up to be a dick again. I can just tell. He's been out of the spotlight too long after he was pushed aside in the wake of Scott Brown's victory. And he's starting to make noise, which always seems to precede a dick move. But Joe can only be a dick in a close vote, and I can't see a close vote scenario right now. I think it's either going to go or Bork.

That's an interesting point about asking the swing votes. But my guess is those names are looking for party guidance from the judicial committee bigwigs and at the national mood on whether to Bork right out of the gate or proceed to hearings and/or ultimately acquiesce as with with Sotomayor.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-04-13 11:17PM | 0 recs
RE: Agreed

"Obama first has to ask who is most qualified to serve on the court."


I hate this phrase. What does it mean - all valedectorians or all appeals court judges or what? The top dozen or so are equally "qualified" the rest is subjective.

by bay of arizona 2010-04-13 10:30PM | 0 recs
Whatever he thinks it means

It is a highly subjective term, but it does not necessarily equate to liberal versus moderate, as the GOP and others imply.

Perhaps it means who, amongst these very intelligent individuals, has the greatest depth and breadth of thought on matters of jurisprudence. Perhaps it means who has the potential to be most influential.

It's not that I am a fan of the terminology of qualification -- I am just less a fan of looking at nominees along a one dimensional liberal versus moderate spectrum.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-04-13 11:01PM | 0 recs
I've been hearing

Elizabeth Warren and Hilary Clinton being thrown around in the jumble of names lately, although I think most of it is pundit speculation.

by Chuckie Corra 2010-04-13 08:19PM | 1 recs
RE: I've been hearing

Clinton said she wanted to stay on as SoS and the WH seemed really happy to confirm that message. Although I loathe looking at justices from a purely political viewpoint, a Clinton nomination could be really (really) useful in the event that a nomination shifts the court makeup.

The biggest fights seem to happen when a nominee threatens to dramatically alter the liberal versus conservative balance. Nominating Sotomayor to replace Souter isn't radical. You are replacing one liberal with another. When you nominate a Bork to replace a Powell, then you are going to dramatically pull the court to the right. I so wish Kennedy was still here with us.

If you lose a conservative justice, there will be demands for Obama to nominate a moderate. He could do so and placate the GOP. Or, he could seize the chance to radically alter the balance of the court by nominating a liberal almost impossible to oppose. As a former Senator, she's one of them. She worked with them and served with people on both sides of the aisle. It would be really difficult to explain how she's qualified to be SoS and unqualified to be a Supreme Court Justice.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-04-13 11:36PM | 0 recs
RE: I've been hearing

There is also a lot of discussion about him nominating another Ivy leaguer to the court.  I like to see point-of-views from several different areas of the political spectrum, so I occasionally force myself to download the Fox News Sunday podcast.  I believe it was Bill Kristol who pointed out that, if Obama nominated another ivy-league justice, the court would be comprised of 100% ivy-league alumni. He went on a rant about how Obama should stand up against the powerful-interest law schools.  Which I guess I sort of see his point, but either way you slice it there are still 8 justices on the court who are ivy alumni.  I'm all for diversity though.

by Chuckie Corra 2010-04-14 02:38AM | 0 recs
7 of whom were nominated by other Presidents.

Intellectual honesty is not a close friend of Bill Kristol. There is also the notion that he must nominate someone who is not Jewish or Catholic, as the court is now 100% Jewish-Catholic.

I sort of dislike these diversity requirements, but they are a reality. If the court was 100% male, I think there would be overwhelming pressure to nominate a woman. If the court was 100% white, I think there would be overwhelming pressure to nominate a minority.

But I do concede that Bill Kristol has a point, and that we need to look for diversity outside race and gender. If possible.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-04-14 12:36PM | 0 recs
RE: New Supreme Court nominee speculation thread

I thought this was the best description of Republican attitudes right now:

It just caught me as a very good representation.  Apologies and a tip o' the hat to the late Charles Shultz.

by Hammer1001 2010-04-13 11:35PM | 0 recs
RE: New Supreme Court nominee speculation thread

Well, figure out how to see the pic...I thought I put it up ok...

by Hammer1001 2010-04-13 11:36PM | 0 recs

Well, Rahm is in love with Graham, so it's probably Kagan.

by LordMike 2010-04-14 02:44AM | 0 recs


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