Thursday, May 14, 2009


According to unnamed sources, Obama has narrowed his search down to six... the SCOTUS Six. Who is on the list you might add:
Solicitor General Elena Kagan, 
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, 
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano 
U.S. Appeals Court judge Sonia Sotomayor 
U.S. Appeals Court judge Diane Pamela Wood
California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno 
An interesting list of people. Here is a little background on each:

Granholm, a former federal prosecutor and Michigan attorney general. She has been a fierce spokeswoman for her state's struggling auto industry and was a strong advocate for Obama during his presidential campaign.

Napolitano, who stepped down as Arizona's governor to join the administration and was quickly tested as homeland security chief when the swine flu outbreak hit.

Wood, an appeals court judge who has worked at the State Department, the Justice Department and in private practice. Like Obama, she taught at the University of Chicago Law School.

Kagan, who stepped down as dean of Harvard Law School to become the nation's first female solicitor general. Like Obama, she has a law degree from Harvard and taught at the University of Chicago Law School. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and worked in the Clinton White House.

Sotomayor, an appeals court judge and former New York prosecutor and private lawyer. President George H.W. Bush nominated her as a federal judge; Clinton nominated her to the appeals court.

Moreno was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1998 to serve as a U.S. District Court judge and the Senate unanimously confirmed him. In 2001, he raised a few eyebrows when he gave up his lifetime federal judgeship to accept Democratic Gov. Gray Davis' nomination to the state's high court. Moreno is the only Democrat on the California Supreme Court and is widely regarded as its most liberal voice. Last year, he signed on to the court's 4-3 ruling that legalized gay marriage in the state.

Here are my predictions...

Moreno is out. He voted for gay marriage and I think Obama is going to try to avoid controversy in the Senate process. I also think, given the other names, Obama is considering a woman.

Napolitano is a possibility. She is the head of DHS, but has received some criticism in recent weeks about her handling of a number of issues. She is 51, which is relatively young. I also think Republicans may like to get her out of DHS, so they may let her go through the Senate wish more ease. Obama wouldn't have a cabinet member on his short-list unless he was seriously considering it.

Kagan does not have to much of a political history that is readily accessible. What I can find is that she is an acclaimed scholar and is probably someone Obama would seriously be considering.

Granholm, I think, does not have a chance. She is the Governor of Michigan, which has had problems with its auto industry. I am sure Republicans will use this to grill Granholm. Granholm, from a liberal perspective, would be a great candidate. She is liberal on social issues, such as the funding of mental health care facilities.

Wood has a moderate record on the court. She is very middle-of-the-road type of judge. For example, National Organization for Women v. Scheidler was a moderate ruling . In Bloch v. Frischholz she upheld religious freedoms, which is something the Republicans will like (and I like also). She should definitely be on the short list and will probably be the path of least resistance.

Sonia Sotomayor is another moderate that would probably have little resistance in the Senate. The ABA considers her a centrist. She is also a female and Latino, so she has a double-miniority status that would allow Obama to play identity politics with his choice in two categories.

So Here is my list, in order of who I think will get the nomination:
  1. Sotomayor
  2. Wood
  3. Kagan
  4. Granholm
  5. Napolitano
  6. Moreno


Andrew said...

I would think seriously about adding our chief justice, Leah Ward Sears, to the list.