For weeks, the media laundry machine has been circulating news of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’s impending retirement. Now that the buzzer has gone off on that, it’s time to switch to the next cycle: speculation as to who President Barack Obama will nominate to replace him.
President Obama has been dragging his feet in his appointment of federal judges. We are relieved to hear that he is going to pick up the pace for announcing his Supreme Court pick. ABC News reports that the White House is prepared — thanks to Stevens’s public pondering — and that the announcement will come “within weeks.” Which isn’t really very helpful at all. Two weeks? Four weeks? Twelve weeks?
BLT reports on Obama’s speech from the Rose Garden today:
“While we cannot replace Justice Stevens’ experience or wisdom, I will seek someone in the coming weeks with similar qualities — an independent mind, a record of excellence and integrity, a fierce dedication to the rule of law, and a keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people,” Obama said. “It will also be someone who, like Justice Stevens, knows that in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.”
Please make it fast, Obama. We’re ready to move on to the confirmation hearing cycle!
Let’s speculate until then, though…
According to ABC News, there are 10 people on the White House shortlist. Of course, the names that have been tossed around most frequently are those of Elena Kagan, Diane Wood, and Merrick Garland.
Our own David Lat, Eugene Volokh, and Joseph Thai spoke to ABA Journal legal affairs writer Stephanie Francis Ward about who they think may be chosen to fill Stevens’s robes. Listen to the podcast at the ABA Journal. They focused on Kagan and Wood, though Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski’s name did come up (hopefully). Volokh raised the question of whether religion still matters, given that Stevens is the last Protestant on the Court. Lat and Thai don’t think it does.
- Hillary Clinton (that would make for fun times at the confirmation hearings, and Slate’s Emily Bazelon thinks she’d be a “be a rock star of a Supreme Court justice.”)
- Merrick Garland (having a penis is a bit of a disadvantage for potential nominees right now)
- Elena Kagan (over at Salon, Glenn Greenwald argues this would move the court further to the right)
- Janet Napolitano (unlikely — the underwear bomber bombed her Supreme Court prospects)
- Deval Patrick (the Mass. governor has political credentials, which the court has lacked since Justice O’Connor’s departure)
- Kathleen Sullivan (her resumé has the recently added credential of first female name partner of the AmLaw 100)
- Cass Sunstein (Mother Jones thinks this is unlikely)
- Diane Wood (CBS News claims she and Kagan are at the front of the pack; Lat likes the drama she would bring to the confirmation hearings.)
Over at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick and Emily Bazelon have produced a more idiosyncratic list of potential nominees. Sidley Austin superstar Carter Phillips is one of the people to make it onto their list, along with Harold Koh, Elizabeth Warren, and Bryan A. Stevenson, among others.
Of course, let’s not forget that Jeffrey Rosen would have President Obama nominate Barack Obama for the spot.
Who Should Replace Justice Stevens? [Slate]
Potential Supreme Court Nominees: White House Prepared for Stevens Retirement [ABC News]
When, if Ever, Will Obama Get on Track With Judges? [Wall Street Journal Law Blog]
FantasySCOTUS.net- Who will replace Justice Stevens? Vote now! [Josh Blackman's Blog]
Podcast: Lat, Volokh & Thai on Front-runners & Dark Horses to Replace Stevens [ABA Journal]
On Justice Stevens’s Retirement: Outtakes From Around the Web [Wall Street Journal Law Blog]
Obama Expects Supreme Court Nominee in Weeks [BLT]