Friday, April 9, 2010

And A Great Justice Steps Down...Who's Next? The Short List in A Nutshell

We received the news this morning that Justice Stevens will be retiring:

Before we discuss the heirs apparent, let me just say that Justice Stevens has served his nation admirably, and has been a staunch defender of The Constitution and The Bill of Rights. In addition to many landmark cases, his dissenting opinion in Bush v. Gore so eloquently stated the harm that the decision did to this country:
Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today's decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.
If you'd like to peruse the milestone cases on which Stevens ruled, check out this Newsweek article. It gives a concise and simple tribute to the Justice that made his way on the court as a reasonable mind and generous soul.

So, as you can see, it's official. Justice Stevens is retiring and summer's coming fast - especially in an election year. From what I am reading, the short list for SCOTUS is still on the table from the last round. Could they add some new possibilities? Sure, they could, but those on the list are vetted and time is tight. So, with no further ado, in a nutshell, here are the top contenders: 
  • Solicitor General Elena Kagan At the top of the list, Elena Kagan has played her cards close to her chest, refusing to answer questions on such topics as Roe v. Wade. That's a smart move in this political climate. She refused to have military recruiters on campus at Harvard, on the grounds that it violated anti-discrimination laws. After having seen too many friends taken advantage of by double-talking recruiters, and with the current administration yet to ban DADT, I am against having recruiters on any campus for any reason. So, kudos on that, Elena! She's also seen as someone who can "find common ground" among other judges, according to the Washington Post.
  • Judge Diane Wood  Here's why I think Diane Wood should be the nominee. This quote from one of her colleagues sums up precisely what we need on the court right now:  "She's as bright as Posner and Easterbrook (conservative judges on the 7th Circuit Court) and really holds her own, and I think she would hold her own with the great intellects on the high court as well," said Chicago lawyer Fay Clayton, who has argued many 7th Circuit cases. "Everything she does is based on precedent and statutory construction and the facts."We need someone willing to stand up for what's right and hold her own...for all of us.
  • Judge Merrick Garland  Garland is a moderate. And right now, I don't want a moderate. I want someone, as The President said today of Stevens, "with a similar mind." Garland has plenty of solid credentials, including trial experience (he oversaw the UNABOM prosecution), but the last thing we need in this country is to see the court move any further to the right. Granted, he would be easier to nominate in the face of Republican opposition, but in my book, that's no reason to appoint someone to the highest court of the land. I'd rather we fight the good fight any day, even if it makes the battle tougher.
  • Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Huh? Really? Sure, she's a lawyer. And she was the Attorney General for Arizona. But if you were appointing folks to the Supreme Court, wouldn't you kinda want someone who's, I dunno, been a judge? Some are saying that an outsider's perspective is just what's needed, but 'm not so sure about that. It's a little like saying, "Hey, I was a student once, so put me in the classroom and let me teach!" I wouldn't want my kids in that class. She's done an admirable job and was really taken advantage of when her remarks were taken out of context recently (remember the underpants bomber usiness?). I have a great deal of respect for her, but am not sure where she stands on many issues. Anyone who can enlighten me, please comment below.
Some of the dark horses are Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and, my favorite longshot, Senator Amy Klobuchar, who was actually Minnesota's Attorney General. Why? 'Cause I like her politics, and she's a smart cookie. She'd fight hard for what's right. Klobuchar's already said she's got a job, and that she's not interested, but it would surely make for an interesting nominating process! Others that used to be on the short list, and could be again, are listed here - many intriguing possibilities, so see what you think. So far, I can't find odds in Vegas on any of the candidates...will keep you posted!

What do you think? Will The President go with the safe nominee, Garland, and keep the GOP content (you know how much he loves bipartisanship, even if it's one-sided!), or will he choose Wood and make the base happy? Since the big HCR win, there's more political capital to be spent, and keeping the base content heading into an election year is smart politics, after all. Maybe, just maaayyybee,  Amy Klobuchar is secretly packing her office??? ;) We'll know sooner than later. Post your own personal shortlist in the comments, or argue the case for your nominee! I'm looking forward to hearing your comments here at Momma Politico!