Friday, May 01, 2009

The Supreme Speculation begins...

Now the games begin as far as who will be considered to be appointed to the Supreme Court to replace Justice Souter, then the game aspect of what dirt can be dug on those suggested and will they make it through the congressional confirmation process. Not all have fared well in the past with a long line of those who briefly held promise. As you can see by this Washington Post piece, names are already being circulated:

Judge Sonia Sotomayor (born 1954), U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. Sotomayor was nominated to the bench by President George H.W. Bush in a deal with New York senators in 1991 and elevated to the appeals court in 1998 by President Bill Clinton. She could become the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court. Conservatives have raised questions about her role in upholding a decision by the city of New Haven, Conn., to throw out a firefighter promotions test because no African Americans qualified. The case is now before the Supreme Court.

Judge Diane Wood (born 1950), U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Wood worked at the antitrust division of the Justice Department during the Clinton administration, and she was nominated to the appeals court by Clinton in 1995. She knows Obama from her days as a professor at the University of Chicago law school, where he also taught. Wood, who will turn 60 next year, is the oldest of the candidates frequently mentioned for the court, where the trend has been toward younger justices who would serve for years in the lifetime appointment.

Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw (born 1954), U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Wardlaw worked for the Clinton Justice Department transition team and was nominated by Clinton as a federal judge in 1995, then elevated to the appeals court in 1998. She is a liberal judge on the nation's most liberal appeals court, and she also had a role in a case now before the Supreme Court. She wrote the appeals court decision that said Arizona school officials violated the constitutional rights of a 13-year-old middle school student who was strip-searched in an unsuccessful effort to find drugs.

Solicitor General Elena Kagan (born 1960). Kagan was confirmed by the Senate to her new job in March on a 61-31 vote and has yet to argue a case at the court. Her confirmation process was more difficult than some had predicted, as Republican senators accused her of avoiding their questions. In the background was the thought that Kagan might be Obama's first nominee to the court. She is the former dean of the Harvard Law School, worked in the Clinton administration and worked with Obama, although not closely, at the University of Chicago.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears (born 1955). Sears was appointed by then-governor Zell Miller in 1992 and later became the first woman elected in a contested statewide race there. In 2005, she became chief justice, and in the process, became the first African-American woman in the nation to head a state supreme court. Although her current term runs until the end of 2010, Sears has announced she will step down from the job at the end of June.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (born 1959). Granholm (D) has encountered political trouble in her state because of the collapsing economy but was seen as a rising Democratic star. Born in Canada, Granholm is a Harvard Law graduate who served as attorney general before winning election as governor in 2002. She frequently campaigned with Obama during the presidential campaign.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (born 1956). Patrick (D) worked for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and served as assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Clinton Justice Department, 1994 before becoming a corporate lawyer. He was elected governor in 2006 and has had a rocky time in the job, but he is well-liked in the civil rights community.

Judge Ruben Castillo (born 1954), U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Castillo is a former assistant U.S. attorney for Chicago and was counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund. He was nominated to the bench by Clinton in 1994.

Kathleen Sullivan (born 1955). Sullivan is a constitutional scholar and former dean of Stanford Law School who has been an active advocate for abortion rights and gay rights. She more recently has represented business interests before the court and remains director of Stanford's Constitutional Law Center.

Harold Hongju Koh (born 1954). Koh is dean of the Yale University Law School but has been nominated by Obama to be legal adviser to the State Department. He formerly worked in the Office of Legal Counsel and as an assistant secretary of state. His current nomination is under fire from conservatives who criticize his view on international law and its applicability to U.S. judicial decisions.

This is of course not a complete list, National Journal as well as other media sources out there have other names. One thing they do seem to agree on though is that Sotomayor could have problems if she is the one selected and if nothing else? Has a target on her back already...

1 comment:

Alex said...

I've enjoyed hearing challenges to these potential nominees on the grounds that their views are "far outside mainstream legal thought."

The problem with this argument, however, is that many others are consistently found that support the legal theory underlying these "extreme" decisions. This challenge, it would seem, then, is self-referential. It is assuming the "right-ness" of one's own conception of legal theory and the "role of the court" and then arguing from that premise; accept that's precisely the assumption that needs a defense.