Justice David Souter's departure was still in "source" form last night, not yet confirmed by the White House or Supreme Court. But the race was on among the media to be first to guess who his replacement might be. The Atlantic Monthly cited XX chromosomes as the most important qualification:
Obama will be under enormous pressure to name a woman to replace Mr. Souter, especially given the illness of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Justice John Paul Stevens is 89.
Somewhat opaquely, Obama, a constitutional law lecturer, has said that the single most important qualification his appointments must possess is empathy for those who are less fortunate? Among those who might make the list of replacements: incoming solicitor general Elena Kagan, formerly the dean of the Harvard Law School, Cass Sunstein, a brilliant constitutional law prof who now works at Obama's Office of Management and Budget, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, appelate judge Diane Wood, and Leah Ward Sears, the chief justice of Georgia's Supreme Court.
Politico.com says the president is under equal pressure to appoint a woman and a Hispanic. So:
The top candidate, on paper, is Judge Sonia Sotomayor, a Clinton appointee to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. She meets the empathy criteria, having grown up poor in the South Bronx, as well as Obama's preference for sterling credentials, having graduated from Yale Law School.
I cannot believe Hillary Clinton is a serious candidate for Supreme Court Justice. First, she's having too much fun jetting around the world and using her influence where she wields the most clout: in international circles. Second, if she accepted a nomination to the Supreme Court, that'd be a sure sign she's never planning to run for president again. And few in Washington are convinced that is the case.
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By Bonnie Erbe