SCOTUS Potential

SCOTUS speculation.jpgConservatives won’t be happy with President Obama’s pick to succeed Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court. But some nominees are more noxious than others. Of the names surfacing on SCOTUS short-lists, who can conservatives live with — and who would drive them up the wall?
We reached out to Curt Levey, Executive Director of the Committee for Justice, and solicited his thoughts on the Obama shortlisters. More specifically, we asked him to rank the possible nominees from most problematic to least.
Levey kindly obliged. Assuming the nominee will be a woman, an assumption that is almost universally shared, he grouped the most commonly mentioned names into three groups.
In the first tier — consisting of the most problematic nominees, with “judicial activism guaranteed” — Levey listed three: Judge Sonia Sotomayor, of the Second Circuit; Judge Diane Wood, of the Seventh Circuit; and Kathleen Sullivan, former dean of Stanford Law School (and one of the most famous failers of the California bar exam, along with this guy).
For the second tier — containing nominees who are still “very liberal,” but might have some respect for the rule of law, “if only because they haven’t proved otherwise yet” — Levey mentioned three: Solicitor General Elena Kagan; Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm; and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
Finally, in the third tier, Levey mentioned two names: Justice Leah Ward Sears, of the Georgia Supreme Court, and Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, of the Ninth Circuit. He described Justice Sears and Judge Wardlaw as jurists who have at least “shown some respect for the rule of law.”
The bad news for conservatives: the nominee will probably come from Levey’s top two tiers.
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pick Your Poison: A Conservative Ranks SCOTUS Possibilities”

SCOTUS speculation.jpgIs it possible to be on the short list to fill Justice Souter’s place on the Supreme Court and not even know it? Newsday reports:

Much to her surprise, the dean of Hofstra University Law School woke Sunday morning to find she had just been thrust into the national political conversation as a possible contender for a seat on the United States Supreme Court.
National Public Radio speculated that Dean Nora V. Demleitner, 42, of Port Washington, was among those being considered by President Barack Obama for a job on the nation’s highest court.
“I was very surprised in that NPR mentioned me,” Demleitner said in an interview Monday. “It’s an incredible honor to be mentioned.”

Does anybody know how the rumor got started? Even Long Island court watchers seem surprised:

Brian Griffin, former president of the Criminal Courts Bar Association of Nassau County, said he read about Demleitner’s potential candidacy in the newspaper….
Demleitner said she was baffled about how her name got mentioned.
“Like everybody else, I know a lot of people who have connections, but I could not begin to imagine who would have done it,” Demleitner said of a possible nomination.

If the dean of Hofstra Law School was actually appointed to the Supreme Court, would she hire clerks from Hofstra? If so, would Justice Scalia’s head simply explode?
The possibilities are tantalizing.
Hofstra law dean honored to be mentioned for Supreme Court [Newsday]
Earlier: Supreme Speculation: And Then There Were Six

SCOTUS speculation.jpgAs noted in yesterday’s Morning Docket, President Obama has reportedly narrowed his search for a Supreme Court justice to a shortlist of six. From CNN:

Among the finalists are federal appeals court judges Sonia Sotomayor and Diane Wood, and Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak by the White House.

Women make up all but one of the top candidates currently being given serious scrutiny, the sources said.

Also on the list, a source said, was California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno. The 60-year-old Los Angeles, California, native was not among the early favorites mentioned by legal analysts and the media. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs previously hinted some of the names under consideration were under the political radar.

Who will get the nod? To be totally honest, it’s pretty impossible to say at this point. Once you get down to a short list of a half-dozen, the choice belongs to the president (as the White House seems to be emphasizing to interest groups). Anything can happen.
President Obama will meet personally with some of the finalists, and his final choice will no doubt be influenced by those meetings. A leading contender can kill his or her chances by coming across poorly in the interview (as former Judge J. Michael Luttig did when he met with President Bush, according to Jan Crawford Greenburg in Supreme Conflict).
But none of this will stop us — or anyone else — from speculating. Speculation is fun! And since we probably won’t have a nominee until after Memorial Day, for the reasons identified by Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic, we might as well pass the time with parlor games.
Additional discussion, plus a pair of polls, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Speculation: And Then There Were Six”


SCOTUS speculation.jpg* The Supreme Court short list has been leaked. Surprise: There’s a man on the list! Under consideration are Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Appeals Court judges Sonia Sotomayor and Diane Pamela Wood, and California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno. [Associated Press]
* Bill Gates is firing his dad’s firm. Microsoft has dropped K&L Gates from its preferred legal providers list. [Seattle Times via ABA Journal]
* A murdered lawyer in Guatemala left behind a video blaming the president of the country for his assassination. [Wall Street Journal and Associated Press]
* Obama may not comply with the 2nd Circuit’s ordered release of detainee abuse photos. [Washington Post]
* “Michelle Obama: Why I left a ‘big ol’ fancy’ Chicago law firm.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

Marc Dreier small Mark Dreier Marc Drier Marc S Dreier LLP.jpg* Marc Dreier pleaded guilty yesterday. “He has disgraced the honorable profession of law,” said Judge Jed S. Rakoff. [New York Times]
* Dreier’s $400 million swindle obviously supported quite a lavish lifestyle. Check out his 2500+ sq. ft. Southampton beach house to be auctioned off next month. [David R. Maltz & Co.]
* The Legal Intelligencer has launched a series looking at the way the legal industry is changing. First part of the series gives kudos to Eckert Seamans for recognizing that first-year associates are worthless. [Legal Intelligencer]
* Judge lets Rod Blagojevich use his campaign fund for his defense costs and lets him have all the lawyers his little heart desires. [Chicago Tribune]
* The SCOTUS nomination process continues to generate massive speculation. Today, the Washington Post says there’s a strong push for a Hispanic justice. But the article has this insightful tidbit: “The White House is constructing its appointment strategy on the belief that this will not be [Obama's] only appointment to the court and that he need not reach his goal of changing the racial, ethnic and gender balance on the court with just one pick.” [Washington Post]

Supreme Court7.jpg
Over at SCOTUSblog, Tom Goldstein has a long post on who a Democratic president might nominate to fill the Supreme Court vacancies that would surely open up if the GOP exits the White House in 2008.
Goldstein’s criteria are fairly straightforward: ideology, experience, demographics, and age (he excluded anyone born before 1952).
Some of the names are familiar (Sonia Sotomayor, Merrick Garland) and some are unexpected (Jennifer Granholm, Ken Salazar). Here’s Goldstein’s bottom line:

My ultimate predictions? Kim Wardlaw (2009, for Souter), Deval Patrick (2010, for Stevens), and Elena Kagan (2011, for Ginsburg).

What, no Harold Koh?
A SCOTUSblog commenter suggests another factor for a Democratic president to consider:

a relevant consideration is “How aggressively is the nominee going to articulate a coherent liberal jurisprudence?” Finding a lefty version of Scalia to blast the right and get opinions into law school casebooks is what Democrats should be aiming for if they care about politics and partisan entrenchment to their benefit.

The anti-Scalia! Does such a creature exist?

Elena Kagan 3 Harvard Law School Above the Law Elana Kagan Elena Kagen.jpgOur condolences to Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan. Dean Kagan, who was under consideration for the president of Harvard University, was passed over for the job in favor of historian Drew Gilpin Faust (aka “Dr. Faust”).
But maybe it’s for the best. As Harvard president, it can be tough not to make enemies. See, e.g., Larry Summers.
(Unless you want to be kinda boring and ineffectual. See, e.g., Neil Rudenstine.)
And enemies are not what a possible Supreme Court nominee wants. Especially a nominee who, like John Roberts and Samuel Alito, generally plays well with others — even those who hold divergent ideological views.
From a Princeton tipster:

The most recent edition of the Princeton Alumni Weekly has an interesting tidbit about Anne-Marie Slaughter and Elena Kagan (who have creepily similar resumes):

“‘Elena has an extraordinary talent for not making enemies,’ says Anne-Marie Slaughter ’80, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School, who became friendly with Kagan when both were Sachs Scholars at Oxford (Kagan coxed the boat in which Slaughter rowed), and later taught with her at Chicago and Harvard law schools.”

How hot is that??? Perhaps you could create a “fantasy legal academic crew team,” with, e.g., Charles Fried as stroke (naturally — he’s quite the gym bunny) and Bruce A. in bow. Think of the Photoshop head-pasting potential!

We are well aware of Dean Kagan’s hotness (since she was nominated in our law school deans hotties contest). But we had no idea she was also an athlete.
How neat! Dean Kagan, you can yell “Stroke!” at us anytime.
A ‘Rebellious Daughter’ to Lead Harvard [New York Times]

Above the Law 8 Janice Rogers Brown.JPG
“I wouldn’t call Harry Edwards a ‘judicial divo,’ per se. He’s just really irritable, that’s all.”
This is a continuation of our earlier post about a luncheon talk by the fantabulous Judge Janice Rogers Brown. Judge Brown sits on the D.C. Circuit, the most prestigious appellate court in the country after the U.S. Supreme Court (which she may someday join). She spoke recently before the Federalist Society in Washington, a group that she said she “always enjoys spending time with — despite all the trouble it gets [her] into.”
Discussion and pictures, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dining With a Diva: Lunch with Judge Janice Rogers Brown (Part 2)”

Ed. note: Fans of diversity will be pleased to note that this post has nothing to do with (1) Aaron Charney, (2) Biglaw pay raises, or (3) Shanetta Cutlar.
Above the Law 13 Janice Rogers Brown.JPG
“I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: I am NOT a judicial diva!!!”
(Okay, she didn’t say it quite this emphatically. But Judge Brown did repudiate the “judicial diva” label, when we asked her about it during the Q-and-A session.)
Some time ago — we’re too embarrassed to mention when — we attended a lunch talk here in Washington with Judge Janice Rogers Brown, of the D.C. Circuit. As we’ve previously noted, Judge Brown is a leading judicial diva and possible Supreme Court nominee.
It was a great event, and we took lots of pictures, of the impressively poor quality that you’re used to here at ATL. Our write-up, with pics, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dining With the Diva: Lunch with Judge Janice Rogers Brown (Part 1)”

Janice Rogers Brown Above the Law Wanda Sykes.JPGLast Friday, we attended a fantastic lunch talk by Judge Janice Rogers Brown (near right; her celebrity doppelganger, Wanda Sykes, is on the far right).
In case you’re not familiar with her, Judge Brown is a leading judicial diva. She’s a former justice of the California Supreme Court and a current member of the D.C. Circuit. In light of her inspirational life story — she’s an African-American female, the daughter of sharecroppers — and her seat on our nation’s most prestigious circuit court, Judge Brown is frequently mentioned as a possible Supreme Court nominee.
We’ll have more to write about the event later — plus some of our fabulously horrendous photographs, an ATL trademark. For now, though, we just want to share you the best quip of the day (or the “money quote,” as those political bloggers like to say):

“I have NEVER thought of myself as a diva.”

What caused her to utter this sentence? During the Q and A, we got up and asked her (among other things): “Judge Brown, you’re a fabulous judicial diva. But you’re stuck on a court that focuses on administrative law. Do you feel that being on the D.C. Circuit cramps your diva style?”
This was just one of several delightful moments from a great event. We’ll provide a more detailed report later.
Calendar of Lawyer Division Events [Federalist Society]
Fili-BUSTED! Magnificent Judicial Divas [UTR]
Earlier: The Courtroom of Style: Judge Janice Rogers Brown

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