Politics

Hillary Clinton’s SCOTUS Shortlist Is Emerging

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent

A list of individuals Hillary Clinton will consider nominating for the Supreme Court is emerging.

Democratic groups close to Clinton and the judicial nominating process say that though no official short list of nominees exists, all interested parties have arrived at a consensus list of potential picks, reports The Hill.

Chief Judge Merrick Garland, who President Obama selected to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia, will likely top the list. Garland has already been vetted by the American Bar Association (ABA), completed an extensive FBI background check, and met dozens of senators. Submitting a new nominee would effectively begin this lengthy process again.

Clinton is also likely to consider Judge Sri Srinivasan of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and Judge Paul Watford of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Srinivasan and Watford were each on the final list of three judges Obama considered to succeed Scalia, along with Garland.

Though Watford is the more attractive choice to progressive regulars, liberals may blush at certain perceived ideological apostasies. In Reed v. Town of Gilbert in 2013, Watford sided with a pastor who argued that a town law which imposed stricter rules on signs providing directions to churches than other forms of political or commercial expression, amounted to a content-based restriction of speech. Watford’s opinion in the case was eventually vindicated by Justice Clarence Thomas, who endorsed Watford’s analysis writing for a six-justice majority which overturned the law.

In spite of his philosophical dalliance with Clarence Thomas, Watford’s progressive bona fides are solid. A former clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, he is a vocal death penalty opponent and joined the ACLU in filing an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down S.B. 1070, a controversial Arizona law which gave law enforcement officers the prerogative to check an individual’s legal status during the course of a routine stop or arrest.

Watford is also a sensible choice for those interested in diversifying the Court — he is an African American, 48 years old (which would make him the Court’s youngest justice by nearly a decade), and would be the only justice not to graduate from Harvard or Yale law schools. (RELATED: Restoring ‘Diversity’ To The Supreme Court)

Srinivasan is also appealing to those who would follow in the president’s mold to diversify the bench — he was born in Tamil-speaking southeastern India and is Hindu. Though he has tended to side with the Obama administration during his tenure on the D.C. Circuit, liberals have plenty to take umbrage at where Srinivasan is concerned. He served in the Bush Justice Department.

Other names likely to be considered include Judge Jane Kelly of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Jacqueline Nguyen of the Ninth Circuit, Justice Goodwin Liu of the California Supreme Court, Judge Patricia Ann Millet of the D.C. Circuit, Judge Mariano Florentino Cuellar of the Ninth Circuit, and his wife Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court in northern California.

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