David Souter

SCOTUS speculation.jpgThe upcoming retirement of Justice David Souter has led to lots of speculation about the next Supreme. We held a poll here at ATL, including some of the potential nominees that have been mentioned most often by the legal press. Almost 10,000 ATL readers put Sonia Sotomayor, with 28% of the vote, and Elena Kagan, with 20% of the vote, at the top of their list (see full results after the jump).
Obama says he wants a Supreme with empathy. Given that, Clerquette at Underneath Their Robes asks whether the smart money is on solicitor general and ex-Harvard dean Elena Kagan:

The question of course, is which judicial fox will occupy the Souter seat. As you know, our/ATL’s leaderboard points to General Kagan and Judge Sotomayor as front-runners. But, while some Court-watchers (and POTUS fans) are unabashedly agog at the possibility of the “diversity double” that would be accomplished by Judge Sotomayor’s nomination, a few interesting rumblings to the contrary have emerged. Point I: a number of commenters, including Adam Liptak of the New York Times, have pointed out that the notion of promoting “diversity” amongst the Supremes requires both consideration of personal characteristics and credentials and a good, hard look at the presumptive nominees’ path to power. Given the homogeneity of the current bench, which consists entirely of former federal judges (who are, admittedly, irresistible!), might POTUS seize this opportunity to mix it up a little? He has, after all, identified Justice Earl Warren as his personal judicial dreamboat, citing Justice Warren’s political background and the pragmatism with which it infused his juristic decision-making.
But wait: there’s more! In an article so chock-full of Article III gossip that Clerquette read much of it while breathing into a paper bag (narrowly avoiding a dramatic swoon) esteemed law professor Jeffrey Rosen writes that Judge Sotomayor may not be quite ready for prime time. Although she gets high marks for sass and biographical appeal — not insignificant qualities — Rosen reports that some have raised doubts about her strength on the merits. For example, he writes, many of his sources have “expressed questions about her temperament, her judicial craftsmanship, and most of all, her ability to provide an intellectual counterweight to the conservative justices, as well as a clear liberal alternative.” Gasp! Juicier yet, Rosen quotes a former Second Circuit clerk who opined that Sotomayor was “‘not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench.'” The clerk also noted that Judge Sotomayor had what sound (to this blogress) like patent indicia of divadom: specifically, said the clerk, “She has an inflated opinion of herself, and is domineering during oral arguments, but her questions aren’t penetrating and don’t get to the heart of the issue.”

Wow, Professor Rosen, don’t hold back. Those are strong words, and are getting some strong reactions. Glenn Greenwald at Salon excoriated Rosen for the attack piece.
In our initial post, we proposed an unofficial “David Lat to SCOTUS” campaign. You all came up with some interesting suggestions as well. More speculation on Souter’s replacement, and some dark horse candidates, after the jump.

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piggy bank.jpg* A Los Angeles Judge accused an asbestos litigation firm of playing “a grisly game of asbestos litigation” after they refiled a Texas case in California because it has more exacting standards for a defendant to obtain summary judgment. Perhaps, judge, you’ve lost a little perspective? [ABA Journal]
* A German court rejected a woman’s appeal to take her married name Frieda Rosemarie Thalheim-Kunz-Hallstein because it is too long. [Time.com]
* “Across Georgia, poor people accused of crimes are being abandoned by their lawyers because there is no money to pay their legal fees” (this might put deferred start dates in to perspective).[The Atlanta Journal Constitution]
* Madoff “turned his investment firm into his ‘personal piggy bank,'” using the ponzi money for his family’s expenses. Personally, I have no energy for renewed outrage. [Bloomberg.com]

for sale sign.jpg* President of San Francisco’s Federal Reserve says the economy is getting better. “For the first time in a while, there is some good news to savor.” If by good news, you mean that laid-off lawyers have taken to wearing track suits around the house “savoring” comfort food instead of 6-figure salaries, then yes, there is reason for optimism. [Bloomberg.com]
* Meanwhile, Chrysler’s bankruptcy judge Arthur Gonzalez paved the way for a fire sale of most of the company’s assets. [Reuters]
* A Miami juror, who was on the jury deliberating the case of 6 men accused of conspiring to destroy the Sears Tower in Chicago, was replaced for refusing to deliberate. Got to hand it to her for getting out of jury duty. [The New York Times]
* Souter says goodbye, telling the U.S. Court of Appeals that a jurist’s satisfaction is “not in the great moments, but in being part of the great stream.” [The Washington Post]
* Should there be more women in the “great stream” Souter described. Justice Ginsburg says the Court would benefit from another woman. [USA Today]
* Senator Chuck Schumer went to bat for Loretta Lynch, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, who held the job under Clinton and who has just been re-appointed by Obama. [The New York Times]


other bike.jpg* The bankruptcy judge has made several decisions to keep Chrysler afloat including allowing a $4.5 billion credit line from the U.S. and Canadian governments. [The Detroit Free Press]
* State attorneys general will meet with Craiglist to discuss the elimination of advertisements for “illegal sexual activities.” [The Associated Press]
* In the Court’s first public appearance since Souter announced his retirement–there were many announcements of decisions and upcoming cases–but no mention of the elephant in the room. One case that will be decided is whether it is cruel and unusual punishment to give minors life sentences for serious crimes like rape. [The Washington Post]
* A group of biker lawyers has gotten together to form a small Los Angeles firm that represents victims of motorcycle accidents. [The Los Angeles Times]
* The story of a Beijing lawyer who took on Communist officials in court is evidence of how little freedom Chinese citizens really have. [The Los Angeles Times]

scotus small.jpgATL readers, there are many names being bandied about as potential nominees for the Supreme Court. We’ve narrowed the list to nine people who have been mentioned by at least two of the following outlets: BLT, AP, and the SCOTUSblog.

That the next Supreme Court justice will lack a Y chromosome is a virtual certainty, but we’ve thrown a few token males into the poll anyway. Who strikes your fancy?

More on these nine, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Poll: Who Should Replace SCOTUS Justice David Souter?”

Thumbnail image for souter2.jpg* As we told you last night, Supreme Court Justice David Souter, a 1990 Bush appointee, plans to bid One First Street farewell in June. Last night, we pointed you to BLT’s speculation on possible nominees. Here’s speculation from the AP. [Associated Press]

* The Supreme Court experts at SCOTUSblog write with the most insight into Justice Souter’s decision to retire now and speculation on who Obama will nominate. Souter’s replacement “has to be a woman… Race and ethnicity seem less important” as considerations, says SCOTUSblog. [SCOTUSblog]

* Justice Souter is only 69. Why is he stepping down before he even needs a cane to get around the hallowed halls? Because he hates the nation’s capital. [CBS News]

* Will President Obama’s list of 13 million e-mail addresses help make the SCOTUS nomination process go smoothly? [Washington Post]

* More on the sad suicide of Kilpatrick Stockton layoff Mark Levy. [Washington Post]

Souter Obama Supreme.jpgAccording to NPR, Justice David Souter is planning to retire from the U.S. Supreme Court at the end of the current Term.

Souter is expected to remain on the bench until a successor has been chosen and confirmed, which may or may not be accomplished before the court reconvenes in October.

Arlen Specter’s switch from Republican to Democrat looms even larger now.

We’ve reached out to the SCOTUS public information officer, but have not yet received comment. (We’re not surprised, though, since we reached out at 10:25 p.m.)

Update (11:47 p.m.): The PIO got back to us:

Justice Souter has no comment.

If true, Souter’s retirement would do little to change the balance of the court. Remember:

An Obama pick would be unlikely to change the ideological makeup of the court. Souter, though appointed by the first President Bush, generally votes with the more liberal members of the court, a group of four that is in a rather consistent minority.

Souter’s retirement is not entirely surprising to regular Above the Law readers. Earlier this month, we — via Underneath Their Robes — told you that Souter hadn’t hired any clerks for the October 2009 term.

Let the jockeying begin for Obama’s first SCOTUS nomination. We invite you to suggest nominees in the comments. Maybe we’ll do a poll…

Update: The BLT has an early line on possible nominees, after the jump.

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Clarence Thomas book My Grandfather's Son Above the Law blog.jpgWelcome. If you’re at home, tune in to C-SPAN, which is rebroadcasting the recent book party for Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Thomas’s eagerly anticipated memoir, My Grandfather’s Son, is now in bookstores — and topping the bestseller charts (to the relief of his publisher, HarperCollins, which reportedly paid him a $1.5 million advance).
7:05: The party is being held at the elegant, red-brick Capitol Hill home of radio host and syndicated columnist Armstrong Williams. Expected to attend: 250 guests, including six Supreme Court justices, Vice President Dick Cheney, and several U.S. senators.
Armstrong Williams is interviewed. He explains that the party has been in the works since June. An overwhelming turnout is expected; more people were turned away than allowed to attend.
7:08: Justice Thomas climbs the stairs. When he enters the kitchen — which is right at the top of the stairs, and thus (oddly) where everyone enters and exits — he’s greeted by hearty applause.
Various guests hug him. One guest gushes over his 60 Minutes appearance. CT explains that CBS News made no promises about the nature of its coverage. Interesting. Considering how flattering that segment was, and how uncritical Steve Kroft was in his questioning of Justice Thomas, one might have suspected that Brangelina-type stipulations were in place.
More after the jump.

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David Souter cry weep sob David H Souter David Hackett Souter DHS Above the Law blog.jpgAnother day, another controversy involving New Yorker scribe Jeffrey Toobin and his eagerly anticipated book, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court (to be published on September 18).
Yesterday we wrote about Toobin weighing in on who deserved the blame for Harriet Miers. Today we bring you a new drama (first noted earlier this week by Jeff Dufour and Patrick Gavin, over at Yeas & Nays).
We begin with a juicy excerpt from Toobin’s book, concerning Justice Souter’s reaction to Bush v. Gore:

David Souter alone was shattered. He was, fundamentally, a very different person from his colleagues. It wasn’t just that they had immediate families; their lives off the bench were entirely unlike his. They went to parties and conferences; they gave speeches; they mingled in Washington, where cynicism about everything, including the work of the Supreme Court, was universal.

More discussion, including JT’s juicy revelation about Justice Souter, after the jump.

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Whatcha doin’ for New Year’s? Unless your plans include the words “Diddy” and “yacht,” they’re not as fabulous as this fête:
tim wu evite supreme court clerks the elect.JPG

Some explanation is in order. This party is being brought to you by one of America’s brightest legal minds: celebrity law professor Tim Wu, of Columbia Law School. (We don’t know who this “Sue” character is.)

If you haven’t read ATL’s fawning past coverage of Professor Wu, here’s one detail that says it all: Richard Posner calls him “the Genius Wu.” Need we say more?

The invite list is equally spectacular. It includes these legal luminaries:

(1) Noah Feldman, the hottie-cum-public-intellectual that Harvard just lured away from NYU;

(2) Kermit Roosevelt, the hottie-cum-law-professor-cum-novelist (yes, descended from THOSE Roosevelts); and

(3) Tali Farhadian, the hottie-cum-hottie-cum-hottie.

Memorably described as a “lush Persian beauty,” Farhadian belongs on a Milan runway, a top-five law school faculty, or both.

All of these celebs — like their host, Tim Wu (Breyer/OT 1999) — are members of the Elect. Professors Feldman and Roosevelt clerked for Justice Souter (in October Terms 1998 and 1999, respectively). Farhadian clerked for Justice O’Connor (in October Term 2004).

But Feldman, Roosevelt and Farhadian, in all of their blinding brightness, might be eclipsed if a single invitee makes an appearance at the festivities.

Yes, that’s right. Also on “The List”: AQUAGIRL!!!

Allow us to paraphrase JFK’s famous words about Thomas Jefferson:

“I think this will be the most extraordinary collection of young legal celebrity and fabulosity that has ever been gathered together at a party — with the possible exception of when Aquagirl swam alone.”

Earlier: An Update on Aquagirl: Things Are Going Swimmingly
Wherein We Receive An Email from Celebrity Law Prof Tim Wu
Musical Chairs: Professor Noah Feldman Is Leaving NYU for Harvard!

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