12
May
09

Supreme Court Candidates for Justice David Souter

lady justice

icon_digg The following listed candidates are possibilities for retiring Justice David Souter replacement on our Supreme Court.  This list was complied last November by Salon.com and the New York Times. Salon’s panel consisted of the following:

  • Thomas Goldstein, head of the Supreme Court practice for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
  • David Yalof, associate professor of political science at the University of Connecticut Quantcast
  • Cass Sunstein, University of Chicago law professor and Obama advisor
  • Charles Ogletree, Harvard Law School professor and Obama advisor
  • Lucas A. Powe Jr., Supreme Court historian at the University of Texas School of Law
  • Robert A. Levy, chair of the Cato Institute

As for my recommendations of who should to become our next Supreme Court Justice, I’ll have to punt and save that for an additional posting, once all the “chatter” on the net has subsided. However, I do believe President Obama’s choice will either come from the First or Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (map pdf).

The Candidates:

Sonia Sotomayor:

Sonia SotomayorAfter growing up in a Bronx housing project, Sotomayor has risen to become a judge on one of the most powerful courts in the land: the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. As a Hispanic woman, Sotomayor would make an attractive candidate if Obama is looking to diversify the court. There has never been a Hispanic on the Supreme Court, and there is only one woman currently on the bench, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Sotomayor might also have bipartisan appeal. She is politically moderate, and President George H.W. Bush appointed her to her first judgeship.

Additional information regarding Judge Sotomayor from the NY Times:

Sonia Sotomayor has been a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit since 1998. Before joining the appeals court, she served as a United States District Court judge for the Southern District of New York.

She has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Justice David H. Souter, who plans to retire from the Supreme Court in June.

In what may be her best-known ruling, Judge Sotomayor issued an injunction against major league baseball owners in April 1995, effectively ending a baseball strike of nearly eight months, the longest work stoppage in professional sports history, which had led to the cancellation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years.

On the district court bench, Judge Sotomayor earned a reputation as a sharp, outspoken and fearless jurist, someone who does not let powerful interests bully, rush or cow her into a decision. “She does not have much patience for people trying to snow her,” said one lawyer in 1995, who had cases pending before the judge and asked not to be identified. “You can’t do it.”

While still in her 30s, Judge Sotomayor became the youngest judge in the Southern District of New York. She was the first American of Puerto Rican descent to be appointed to the Federal bench in New York City.

Born in the Bronx on June 23, 1954, she was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 8. Her father, a factory worker, died a year later. Her mother, a nurse at a methadone clinic, raised her daughter and a younger son on a modest salary.

Judge Sotomayor graduated from Princeton University summa cum laude in 1976 and became an editor of the Yale Law Journal. She spent five years as a prosecutor with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office before entering private practice.

But she longed to return to public service, she said, inspired by a “Perry Mason” episode she saw as a girl. In 1992, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan recommended the politically centrist lawyer to President George H. W. Bush, making good on a longstanding promise to appoint a Hispanic judge in New York.

Since then, Judge Sotomayor has demonstrated a willingness to take the government to task whenever she believes the circumstances warrant it. She has taken strong anti-government positions in several decisions, including cases involving the White House, the religious rights of prisoners and even the Hell’s Angels. During her first year on the appeals bench, she received high ratings from liberal public-interest groups.

Deval PatrickDeval Patrick:

As the first African-American governor of Massachusetts and a friend of Barack Obama’s, Patrick is often mentioned as a potential Supreme Court nominee. Patrick would bring something that is in short supply on the court: executive experience. But he would also bring a major risk: He has never served in the judiciary. Despite that gap in his résumé, he has some background in the law. Before he was governor, Patrick was a lawyer and President Clinton appointed him the assistant attorney general for civil rights in 1994 — the nation’s highest civil rights position. Patrick is solidly liberal and supports a number of positions, such as same-sex marriage, that could make him a target for Republicans during the confirmation process.

Elena Kagan:

Elena KaganFew names have been floated as often as a potential Obama nominee as Kagan, the dean of the Harvard Law School — Obama’s alma mater. Like Obama, she also taught at the University of Chicago. Kagan served in Clinton’s White House as an associate counsel and domestic policy advisor. Clinton nominated her for a position on the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, but Republicans stalled her approval. Kagan clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Additional information regarding Judge Kagan from the NY Times:

Elena Kagan is the first woman to hold the position of solicitor general, and is considered a leading candidate to replace Supreme Court Justice David A. Souter, who has told associates that he intends to resign.

The solicitor general, who is the only federal official required by statute to be “learned in the law” and is sometimes referred to informally as “the 10th justice,” supervises appellate litigation involving the federal government and presents the government’s views to the Supreme Court.

Before becoming solicitor general, Ms. Kagan was dean of Harvard Law School. She brought with her a powerful and varied résumé and has produced a substantial paper trail. But she has provided few clues about where she stands on the great legal issues of the day, notably the Bush administration’s broad assertions of unilateral executive power in areas like detention, surveillance, interrogation and rendition. She did offer a glimpse of her views in a 2001 article in The Harvard Law Review that considered the “unitary executive” theory.

The phrase is sometimes used as shorthand for the Bush administration’s assertion that it has broad powers that cannot be limited by Congress or the courts. In her article, Ms. Kagan addressed an earlier and narrower meaning of the phrase, one made popular during the Reagan administration, concerning the scope of the president’s power to control the executive branch itself.

She found that such presidential control “expanded dramatically during the Clinton presidency,” a development she largely welcomed. But she said Congress, experts and interest groups should also play a role in informing the executive branch’s actions.

“I do not espouse the unitarian position,” Ms. Kagan wrote. “President Clinton’s assertion of directive authority over administration, more than President Reagan’s assertion of a general supervisory authority, raises serious constitutional questions.”

Ms. Kagan, whose scholarly interests include administrative law and the First Amendment, is widely credited with bringing harmony and star faculty members to the notoriously dysfunctional Harvard Law School.

She served as a lawyer and policy adviser under President Bill Clinton, who nominated her to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That nomination stalled in the Senate.

Before her nomination, Ms. Kagan had never argued a case before the Supreme Court. Early in her career, Ms. Kagan served as clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall, who ascended to the court after serving as solicitor general. Justice Marshall called her, Ms. Kagan once wrote, “to my face and I imagine also behind my back, ‘Shorty.

Merrick GarlandMerrick Garland:

President Clinton appointed Garland to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1997. Garland also served in the Department of Justice during the Clinton administration; as an associate deputy attorney general he oversaw the Oklahoma City bombing and Unabomber cases. Garland was a clerk for Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. This impressive résumé makes him one of the most experienced of Obama’s potential nominees. Recently, Garland joined two other judges in throwing out the Bush administration’s “enemy combatant” designation for a Chinese Muslim held at Guantánamo Bay. He is considered politically moderate.

Cass SunsteinCass Sunstein:

A preeminent and prolific law scholar and an advisor to Obama’s presidential campaign, Sunstein was a colleague of Obama’s at the University of Chicago and now teaches at Harvard Law School. Sunstein has decried the Supreme Court’s more conservative justices, including Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. He calls them judicial fundamentalists who have advocated “earthquake-like” changes in the law. Sunstein argues for a minimalist approach to jurisprudence. He believes justices’ decisions should be narrowly tailored to the case at hand and should lean heavily on precedent. Sunstein has said minimalists believe “the Supreme Court is not our national policy maker.”

Diane P. WoodDiane P. Wood:

Like Sunstein, Wood is a distinguished law academic. President Clinton nominated Wood to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in 1995 after she worked in his Department of Justice. She is also a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School and was also a lawyer in private practice. She started her law career as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. She is considered somewhat liberal.

Jennifer Granholm:

JenniferGranholmThe governor of Michigan and that state’s former attorney general, Granholm has many of the strengths and weaknesses that Deval Patrick has. She would bring executive experience, but she has also never served in the judiciary. Granholm backed Hillary Clinton during the Democratic presidential primary, but she stumped for Obama during the general election and is serving on his economic transition team. She also stood in for Sarah Palin during Joe Biden’s preparation for the vice-presidential debate.

Additional information regarding Judge Granholm from the NY Times:

Background on Jennifer Granholm, adapted from National Journal’s Almanac of American Politics:

Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, was elected governor of Michigan in 2002. She was born in British Columbia, Canada.

At 18 she became a U.S. citizen. In 1980, she won admission to the University of California at Berkeley. In 1984 she went off to Harvard Law School where she edited the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review.

After law school, she and her husband Dan Mulhern moved to his native state of Michigan.

She was elected elected to the office of state attorney general in November—the only Democrat to win statewide.

Suddenly Granholm was the most visible Democrat in Michigan state government and an obvious candidate to succeed Republican govervor John Engler in 2002, when he would be barred from running by term limits.

By early 2002, Granholm was leading in polls both for the primary and the general election against the presumed Republican nominee Lieutenant Governor Dick Posthumus. Granholm won 48% of the primary vote, Congressman David Bonior 28% and former governor Jim Blanchard 24%.

In the general election, Posthumus attacked Granholm for saying she favored “tweaking” Proposal A—evidently allowing school districts to raise property taxes more than the measure allowed—and for opposing changes in welfare. He portrayed himself as “raised in Michigan, went to Michigan public schools.”

But most voters did not seem to care that Granholm grew up somewhere else. She won by a closer-than-expected 51%-47%.

Granholm’s first term was a time when most of the nation recovered from the 2001 recession—but not Michigan. In her first year she faced a $3 billion shortfall in a $39 billion budget. She set to work cutting spending: her first budget cut aid to universities and cities, sold 2,500 state cars, rescinded $220 million in contracts and adult education by 70% and arts spending 50%.

More cuts followed in fall 2003 and in 2004 and she managed to raise both the cigarette tax and casino taxes.

One of her biggest fights was on the single business tax. In June 2007 Granholm reached agreement with House and Senate leaders on a business tax to replace the 30-year-old system repealed in 2006.

Granholm’s job approval remained high her first two years but sagged in 2005 as Michigan’s economy failed to grow.

In June 2005 Republican Dick DeVos entered the race for governor. Democrats attacked DeVos for his conservative stands on cultural issues; he attacked Granholm for her veto of a partial-birth abortion ban.

In the August primary, in which voters can choose to vote in either primary and neither candidate had opposition, DeVos won 52% of the votes to Granholm’s 48%. Immediately after the primary she began running ads. The first one promised action against gouging by gas stations; she also had an online petition calling on George W. Bush to put a cap on oil company profits.

By October Granholm was leading in the polls, and she won by a solid 56%-42% margin.

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Leah Ward SearsLeah Ward Sears:

She is the first woman to serve as chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, but that is hardly Sears’ only trailblazing achievement. She was the first woman and the youngest person ever to serve on the court when Gov. Zell Miller appointed her in 1992. She was also the first African-American to serve on a Georgia superior court. Sears, like Sotomayor, will present an attractive pick for Obama if he looks to increase the diversity of the U.S. Supreme Court. Sears plans to step down from the Georgia Supreme Court in June 2009. She describes herself as a moderate, but she has often been targeted by Georgia’s conservatives.

Harold Hongju KohHarold Hongju Koh:

The dean of Yale Law School is a Korean-American and an expert on international law and human rights. From 1998 to 2001, he served as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor under President Clinton. He also worked in the Department of Justice. Koh is considered a staunch liberal. He has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. He said in an interview with the Yale newspaper that gay rights are especially important to him. Koh also served as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun.

Cocaine SentencingRuben Castillo:

A United States District Court judge in Chicago, Castillo was appointed by President Clinton in 1994. The judge is the son of a Mexican immigrant father and a Puerto Rican mother, and he was the first member of his family to graduate from college. After starting his career in private practice, Castillo became an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago. During one of Castillo’s prosecutions, a drug kingpin took out a contract on his life, and Castillo and his family had to be placed in police protective custody. Castillo also served as the director of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

The following two candidates are currently serving in President Obama’s Administration, but could be possible choices.  Again the following is presented by the New York Times:

Kathleen Sebelius:

Kathleen SebeliusMaiden Name: Kathleen Gilligan Party: Democrat Political Office: Kansas Governor, elected 2002, reelected 2006; Kansas Insurance Commissioner, 1994-2002; member, Kansas House of Representatives, 1986-1994 Business/Professional Experience: director, Kansas Trial Lawyers Association, 1978-1986; aide, Kansas Department of Corrections, 1975-1977 Date of Birth: May 15, 1948 Place of Birth: Cincinnati, Ohio Education: B.A., Trinity College (Washington, D.C.), 1970; M.P.A., University of Kansas, 1977 Spouse: K. Gary Sebelius, married 1974 Children: son Ned, born 1982; son John, born 1985 Religion: Roman Catholic Home: Topeka, Kan.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is the secretary of health and human services in the cabinet of President Barack Obama. Ms. Sebelius was named after the withdrawal of Tom Daschle, the former Democratic Senate leader and Mr. Obama’s original choice for health secretary. Ms. Sebelius was confirmed by the Senate on April 28, 2009.

Ms. Sebelius is known as a Democrat who can deal with Republicans, which is a necessity in a state Legislature dominated by the opposition party. Ms. Sebelius, who reportedly has a wonkish understanding of health policy, has failed to make significant improvement in health coverage or costs during her two terms as governor.

As governor, Ms. Sebelius has enjoyed what so many of her fellow Democrats want: popularity with moderate and conservative voters in a deep red state. Legislators in both parties said that as governor, Ms. Sebelius’s efforts to reach across the aisle had seemed more strategic than instinctually bipartisan. She is skilled at exploiting the divisions between moderate and conservative Republicans, and has successfully forged coalitions with one caucus or the other on redistricting, school financing and the state budget, among other issues.

When it comes to health care, the governor and the Legislature have been separated by a philosophical gulf, with Ms. Sebelius supporting a larger government role and the Republicans steadfastly resisting it.

She is a Roman Catholic who supports abortion rights, and her vetoes of anti-abortion measures have drawn derision from social conservatives. As secretary, Ms. Sebelius would have considerable influence over government policy on abortion. Although she says she personally opposes abortion, she has consistently defended abortion rights in a state where the anti-abortion movement can be fierce.

Ms. Sebelius’s father was a governor of Ohio, and she married a judge from a prominent Kansas family. Despite favoring abortion rights, opposing capital punishment, and supporting a ban on most concealed weapons, Ms. Sebelius was able to cast a moderate image, as well as maintain a healthy campaign bank balance and deftly exploit divisions within the state’s Republican Party.

In her first year, she credited her top-to-bottom review of state government with reducing costs and helping to eliminate a $1.1 billion budget deficit. She later won a protracted battle with the state legislature to increase education funding, and Ms. Sebelius also traveled to Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan to visit troops and to China to promote Kansas businesses.

Janet Napolitano:

Janet NapolitanoJanet Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona, is the homeland security secretary in the Obama administration.

Ms. Napolitano had called Arizona home since 1983, when she moved to Phoenix to be clerk to Judge Mary Schroeder, then on the Arizona Court of Appeals and now sitting on the federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

From the clerkship, Ms. Napolitano’s law career took her into private practice, to volunteer work for the state Democratic Party, and in 1991 to Capitol Hill, where she provided legal advice to Anita Hill when she accused Clarence Thomas, a Supreme Court nominee, of sexual harassment.

In 1993 President Clinton appointed her United States attorney  for Arizona, a post she held until she was elected state attorney general – the first woman to hold that position – in 1998. (That year, Arizona voters chose women for the state’s top five jobs, including Jane Dee Hull, a Republican, as governor.)

In 2000, Ms. Napolitano was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. In 2002 she ran for governor herself, winning a close race and becoming the first woman to succeed another woman as a state’s governor. In 2006 she was easily re-elected.

In 2005 she was chosen to be vice chair of the National Governors Association and in 2006 she was elected to lead the group. In both cases, it was the first time a woman had held the posts.

Ms. Napolitano holds another distinction as well: she  issued more vetoes than any other Arizona governor. Tangling again and again with the Republicans who controlled both houses of the state legislature, she issued her 115th veto on June 6, 2006, breaking the record previously held by Bruce Babbitt.

Education was a signature issue for Ms. Napolitano when she was governor. She won approval for full-day kindergarten programs for all families that wanted it and persuaded the legislature to spend more money on K-12 education, including raises for teachers, and on the state’s universities.

Ms. Napolitano takes credit for turning a $1 billion deficit into a $1 billion surplus by mid-2007 without any tax increases.

But in February 2008, she announced a hiring freeze for many state agencies because of a projected budget shortfall of $1.15 billion.

Testifying before Congress the next week, she said her state was suffering both from the bursting of the real-estate bubble and from “the failure of the federal government to deal comprehensively with immigration reform.”

As a border-state officeholder, Ms. Napolitano placed herself on the front lines of the national debate over illegal immigration. In 2005, she declared a state of emergency along her state’s border with Mexico, as did Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico. The action freed $1.5 million in disaster funds to help border counties fight illegal immigration and drug smuggling.

In 2006 she vetoed a bill designed to crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, saying it let employers off the hook too easily. A year later she signed a bill that would strip companies of their licenses if they hired illegal workers. She also vetoed legislation to make English the official language of Arizona. She rejected another measure that authorized the police to arrest illegal immigrants on trespassing charges merely for being in the state, because law-enforcement officials said it would overwhelm their resources.— Susan Jo Keller, Jan. 16, 2009.

For sake of reference, the following postings are provided:

Current U.S. Supreme Court Justices (courtesy of Cornell University)

Supreme Court Appointment Process – Roles of the President – Judiciary Committee and Senate (pdf)

A Brief Overview of the Supreme Court (pdf)

Senate Committee on the Judiciary: Supreme Court Nomination Hearings (1971 – forward)

Past members of the Supreme Court of the United States (pfd)

Related newswires articles on the Supreme Court

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