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Replacing John Paul Stevens: A Strategic, Not Political Pick

President Obama will be looking for a Supreme Court nominee to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens who will "affect the Court in a strategic way," with CBS News Legal Correspondent Jan Crawford said today on "Washington Unplugged."

While Mr. Obama's first nominee to the Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, was largely political, the president will now think about "how the nominee and the new justice would affect the internal dynamics of the Supreme Court," Crawford told Unplugged host Bob Orr.

Stevens sent a letter to the president this morning announcing his retirement. While Stevens retirement has been expected for several months, the timing of his announcement was strange for the Justice that Crawford described as "independent" and "eccentric."

"He decided on his own that this was the time to go," said Crawford, "and he was going to do it on a Friday morning."

Crawford listed the prospective favorites to replace Stevens, including two women President Obama may consider. Crawford said Seventh Circuit Federal judge Diane Wood and Solicitor General Elena Kagan are potential female candidates, while Washington, D.C. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland is a strong candidate to ascend to the bench.

None of the candidates come without controversy, and Crawford said the White House may try to easiest route after barely surviving last month's bitter health care reform battle. Crawford said Wood in particular may face the most scrutiny because of some of her past decisions on abortion issues, while Garland is seen as the most moderate of the three.

"If you rank them on order of controversy," said Crawford, "it would be Garland as the easiest, then Kagan, then Wood."

Also on Unplugged Friday, a special "Unplugged Under 40" featuring Roxana Saberi, the American journalist who spent a harrowing 100 days in Iran's most notorious prison. Saberi was accused of espionage last year while living in Iran, and was imprisoned and interrogated before international pressure lead to her release. Unplugged's Kaylee Hartung interviewed Saberi about her new memoirs, Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran.

Watch the whole episode of Washington Unplugged above.

"Washington Unplugged" appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.

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