Politics

The top 10 possible Supreme Court replacements for John Paul Stevens

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Gautham Nagesh
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      Gautham Nagesh

      Gautham Nagesh covers politics and the federal government for The Daily Caller. Prior to joining the DC he covered technology, oversight and procurement in the executive branch for Government Executive magazine and Nextgov.com. His writing has also been featured by The Atlantic, National Journal and the official web site of the Detroit Pistons. He attended Cornell University and hails from Jackson, Michigan.

      <em><a href="mailto:gn@dailycaller.com">E-mail Gautham</a> and <a href="http://twitter.com/gnagesh">follow him on Twitter</a></em>

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement today, setting off a wave of speculation about who will take his place as resident liberal activist on the nation’s highest court. Expect Obama to seize upon this opportunity to pander to a minority group whose policy interests he has otherwise ignored by appointing someone capable of ticking multiple boxes on the standard Census oppression matrix.

Considering the Administration’s post-health care debt to various ideological interests, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the job go to someone who’s gay, a woman, or ideally both (with both Thomas and Sotomayor, the court is already at twice its capacity for racial minorities). Here’s the rundown on the most likely suspects:

Under serious consideration (the people who actually have a shot at confirmation):

Elena Kagan: The current solicitor general and former Harvard Law School dean is the consensus pick. She’s qualified, smart, and generally respected by lawmakers on both sides. Of course that means she’s not liberal enough for some critics. Her lack of a lengthy judicial track record worries others. But odds are, she’s the most likely to get the job. Bonus points: She may be a lesbian, depending on how that polls with likely voters.

Diane Wood:
Currently a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Wood is more liberal than Kagan or Garland and therefore likely to draw tougher opposition from Republicans during confirmation hearings. Wood’s reputation as a top-notch liberal thinker makes her a favorite of the intelligentsia, who are even willing to look past the fact she went to law school at the University of Texas so long as she stands in the back row during the class picture. The fact she’s a Chicago resident and former colleague of Obama’s at University of Chicago Law School can’t hurt either.

Merrick Garland: If Obama gets spooked by the Tea Parties this summer and decides to nominate an old white guy, Garland is the go-to pick. He’s an appeals court judge in D.C., which is like playing for the Yankees’ top farm team. You may have to wait a while for an opening, but when someone finally leaves you’re in the Show.

In the Mix (I think I’ve heard Jeffrey Toobin mention their names):

Janet Napolitano: The former Arizona governor and Secretary of DHS probably scuttled her chances when she claimed that “the system worked” following the Christmas Day attack in Detroit. On the other hand, the Department of Homeland Security is pretty good preparation if you’re looking for someone to liberally interpret the law.

Ken Salazar: The Secretary of the Interior and former Colorado Senator is Hispanic and therefore mentioned whenever any high-level government opens up. In reality, no chance.

The White House throws them a bone by appearing to check them out, but come on:

Jennifer Granholm: The Canadian-born Michigan governor and former Dating Game contestant’s name always pops up in these discussions despite her complete lack of legal achievement. Besides presiding over the most precipitous economic decline in the state’s history, Granholm spent four years as attorney general where she failed to produce any major prosecutions. But apparently her Harvard law degree and ability to get herself elected in a state devoid of political talent or leadership makes her qualified to interpret the Constitution. At least she’ll look purty in that black robe.

Pam Karlan: The Stanford law professor is an open lesbian and former assistant counsel at the NAACP legal defense and education fund. Even the prospect of her nomination is enough to cause lefties to break out into spontaneous drum circles.

Leah Ward Sears: Former Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, Sears is black, female, and friends with Clarence Thomas. The last point alone should be enough to keep her off the Court.

  • dencal26

    Using Left Wing Bean Counter methods the only possible choice can be a Transexual Muslim.

  • dencal26

    As if that foul mouthed classless witch Wonkette is remotely witty. Anyone can use vulgarity.

  • adamincalifornia

    Here is a modest suggestion that might just unite the country and get unanimous support in the Senate – Obama nominates himself and resigns upon confirmation.

    The Left gets to see yet another honor bestowed upon him, he gets the time and space to write several more autobiographies (because two by age 45 are simply not enough), and the rest of us can be relieved of a learn-as-you-go ideologue President. Sure – Joe Biden gets to be President, but that would serve the aim of libertarians to see a less powerful presidency – after Biden the whole country will want the White House on a short leash.

    • patrick

      interesting but that means “Barry for life”. I think I’ll take door #1 and just have him for another 3 years.

  • ignatiusreilly

    “with both Thomas and Sotomayor, the court is already at twice its capacity for racial minorities”

    Twice its “capacity” for racial minorities???

    Mr. Nagesh, you either don’t know how to use words in their proper context or you have unwittingly exposed yourself as an outrageously biased individual.

    • jic1

      Or maybe he just knows how to use and understand sarcasm?

      • ignatiusreilly

        Sarcasm? Is that what it’s meant to be?

        Maybe you’re right but I can’t imagine him making the same remark about Breyer and Ginsburg filling a quota on their ethnic group and not being pilloried for it.

        I’ll settle for calling it in poor taste.

  • dks2008

    this is the weakest of the analyses i’ve read. while i understand you’re not the WSJ and can’t produce what their law blog does, there’s no excuse for this shoddy reporting. a top 10 list that includes someone with the phrase “no chance” is not a valid top 10 list.

    but to the merits: it’s likely obama’s last chance to get someone really controversial. for that, he’ll probably go with diane wood. but he’s up against a lefty senate with a lot to lose in november, so he might be forced to go with someone more appealing to the right – garland and even kagan.

  • thephranc

    I just hope Congress does a good job of vetting who ever it is and doesn’t cave to the PC crowd with fear of being labeled racist or what ever because they ask hard questions.

    • patrick

      With as liberally as the race card is being thrown about I don’t think it matters what the republicans do or say. It is going to be tossed their way anyway. They may as well accept it.

      This whole thing reminds me of when Roberts and Alito were nominated. The dems whined like bee otches “advise and consent!!” “the constitution calls for us to advise and consent”. This was their way of saying that any nominee had to be palatable to them which was just stupid.

      Here’s a question. Did republicans throw that crap around when Comrade Sotomeyor was nominated? No. They understood that the president should get his pick as long as it was a qualified candidate. She got bipartisan support although her history of legislating from the bench was a bit damning.

      My prediction (for those on the edge of their seats) is that a much more vocal and empowered republican party will this time force Obama more center. Any Ginsberg types will likely get the Harriet Meyer track and will be forced to pull out.

      Get your popcorn people.

  • windrdr

    Let’s really get some fireworks going – Skippy could keep us entertained all summer if he nominated Stephen Reinhardt or Rosemary Barkett. . .