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President Obama has his first chance to make an appointment to the Supreme Court as a result of Justice Souter's imminent retirement. The president offered some remarks that shed light into how he is considering potential justices:

quote:
I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book. It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives, whether they can make a living, care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes, and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes. I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role. I will seek somebody who shares my respect for constitutional values on which this nation was founded and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time.


Essentially, it sounds like in addition to the standard requirement of professional legal excellence, the president is also seeking someone who can understand the plight of most Americans in their quest for 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'.

Obama has talked a lot over the last year or more about shifting the emphasis of government from Wall St. to Main St. Recalibrating the law to address the vast majority of Americans is a fundamental way to position government to operate in the public interest instead of in the private interest. It sounds like appointing someone to the court who understands that dynamic and has the intellectual horsepower, legal capacity, and personal strength to lead the court in that direction is what the president is seeking.

In addition, appointing a woman and a person of color have been discussed and are obviously sorely needed attributes on the court.

Put all of this in the 'Supreme Court Justice Calculator' and guess who comes up? Lani Guinier.

You remember Lani - she is the woman who Bill Clinton appointed to the position of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in 1993 but let twist in the wind when the right misrepresented her record and mis-characterized her beliefs on Affirmative Action and her innovative legal thinking about proportional representation. Labeled a "Quota Queen" despite having publicly opposed them, Clinton apparently didn't feel he could spare the political capital to set the record straight and support his friend. He withdrew her nomination and in so doing, stiffed African America.

Guinier not only understands the plight of 'the people', she has devoted much of her writing to figuring out how to utilize the law to strengthen their position. She clearly has the empathy that President Obama values as well as the legal underpinnings to do something about it.

She fits all of the demographic boxes that need to be checked for this nomination. Ms. Guinier is a legal scholar (she is the first African American tenured professor at Harvard Law School). She is, of course, both a woman and is 'of color'. Her appointment would fulfill the president's objectives while also, importantly, rewarding the African American community for their steadfast political support. The appointment would provide the kind of voice on the court that has been missing since Thurgood Marshall.

Now is the time for President Obama to be bold. At 59, Ms. Guinier would be a brilliant legal strategist and a solidly progressive voice on the court for a considerable time. I recommend her as an overwhelmingly positive forward thinking and progressive move for the country. It would be a visionary appointment for the president.

© MBM

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Not that we should be citing to Wikipedia, but I found this interesting, especially the bolded part at the bottom: (LINK)

Some of the ideas she considers are:

* cumulative voting, a system in which each voter has "the same number of votes as there are seats or options to vote for, and they can then distribute their votes in any combination to reflect their preferences"--a system often used on corporate boards in 30 states, as well as by school boards and county commissions.
* Multi-member "superdistricts" is another strategy which "modifies winner-take-all majority rule to require that something more than a bare majority of voters must approve or concur before action is taken."

As a law professor at the University of Chicago, Barack Obama taught Guinier's theories in his classes.


Having said that, though, I can't imagine Obama considers this.

Obama is likely to play instead on a crucial irony about the federal bench. SCOTUS nominations are much more publicly scrutinized/talked about in the press, but the Courts of Appeals are by far the most influential, in that the percentage of Appeals Court decisions that make it to the SCOTUS is extremely small. What Obama is probably going to try to do is steer a more politically pragmatic ground on the more public Supreme Court nominations, but get bolder with the Appeals Court nominations. That's where Bush did by far the most damage, and it's where Obama can have the most impact.
Hmmmm ... I don't see your girl's name on the list, MBM! 19 Maybe you better shoot the Prez a quick email with the suggestion before it's too late! Smile



Sources: High court selection process down to finalists

By By Bill Mears
CNN Supreme Court Producer



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The search for a Supreme Court nominee has been trimmed to about half a dozen candidates by top White House officials, and an announcement may come by month's end, two sources close to the selection process tell CNN.

Among the finalists are federal appeals court judges Sonia Sotomayor and Diane Wood, and Solicitor General Elena Kagan, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak by the White House.

Women make up all but one of the top candidates currently being given serious scrutiny, the sources said.

Also on the list, a source said, was California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno. The 60-year-old Los Angeles, California, native was not among the early favorites mentioned by legal analysts and the media. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs previously hinted some of the names under consideration were under the political radar.

Moreno was a federal trial judge before his 2001 appointment to California's top court.

A new round of vetting the finalists' records is under way by a small group of top staff led by the White House counsel's office, the sources said. Vice President Joe Biden, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and senior adviser David Axelrod are also extensively involved.

Sources say some administration officials are pushing for an announcement before the Memorial Day weekend, when Congress goes on recess for a week. A bipartisan group of senators including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and Senate Judiciary Committee's chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, all met in private with President Obama Wednesday about the upcoming vacancy.

"My impression was [Obama] doesn't want to let it take too long," Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, told reporters after the meeting.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, chairman of the committee, which will hold confirmation hearings, refused to offer a timetable for consideration of the nominee. He said it will depend on how soon a choice is named.

McConnell said he is optimistic that a confirmation vote can happen quickly.

"Unless the president sends up a very controversial nominee, the vote should occur well in advance of the first Monday in October, which is when the court reconvenes," McConnell said.

Both McConnell and Sessions said they hope Obama will not name what they call a "judicial activist" as his nominee.

"I didn't recommend anyone, but I do believe that someone who is not a judicial activist would be best for the country. Someone who does take the law as written seriously. Someone who does not confuse the role with that of a legislator, and hopefully the president will name someone along those lines," McConnell said.

Sessions added, "We are hopeful that a nominee will come forth that is a unifying nominee that we can all support."

Asked if Senate Republicans would consider using a filibuster, McConnell said, "We'll take a look at the nominee and respond appropriately."

A filibuster is a tactic of the minority party in the chamber that can stall or kill a bill or a nomination before the whole Senate. Sixty votes are needed to end a filibuster.

White House press secretary Gibbs said the president is hopeful hearings and a vote by the full Senate will be completed before the monthlong August recess. Leahy said he expected the next justice to be ready when the high court returns to work in late September.

Several names on the short list have no judicial experience, sources said. Those include Kagan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the sources said.

They said Sen. Claire McKaskill, D-Missouri, also was receiving serious consideration in recent weeks.

Leading candidates from the federal bench that have been vetted are appeals court judges Merrick Garland in the District of Columbia, Ann Claire Williams in Illinois, and Kim Wardlaw in California.

Sources say the list of finalists may expand depending on face-to-face meetings Obama has with the current top-tier candidates. The White House has given no public indication whether those personal meetings have concluded.

The nominee would replace Justice David Souter, who announced he will step down after 19 years on the bench when the high court term recesses for the summer in late June.

Three of the finalists have been mentioned for months as leading contenders for any vacant Supreme Court seat, long before Obama took office. Here is a detailed look at those three:

Sotomayor -- The 54-year-old judge on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would be the first Hispanic justice. She was named a district judge by President George H.W. Bush in 1992, and was elevated to her current seat by President Bill Clinton. Supporters say that appointment history, along with what they call her moderate-liberal views, would give her some bipartisan backing in the Senate. But she has suffered through recent stinging criticism in the media and blogs from both the left and right over perceived -- some defenders say invented -- concerns about her temperament and intellect. Some Hispanic groups expressed concern after a skit last week on "The Late Show with David Letterman" compared Sotomayor with a noisy Spanish-speaking judge on a popular TV courtroom show that settles petty legal disputes.

Kagan -- As the administration's top lawyer when arguing before the Supreme Court, her recent confirmation hearing was a breeze, with leading conservative lawyers voicing their support. She has been touted for consensus-building skills she showed as the recent leader of Harvard Law School. At age 49, she has no judicial experience, which some insiders say can be viewed as either a political asset or liability. Sources say Kagan's profile has risen somewhat among White House officials looking at the pros and cons she would bring. Some conservative legal activists privately believe she would be more "reasonable" in her views on executive power than other contenders.

Wood -- Considered one of the sharpest minds on the Chicago, Illinois-based appeals court, she also teaches part time at the University of Chicago, where she met former fellow instructor Obama. They have remained casual, but not close, friends since then. At 59, she is among the oldest candidates being given serious scrutiny for the high court.

Sources say the age of the nominee will be a key selection criteria, since justices have lifetime appointments and the longer they serve the greater the potential legacy for the president. "It isn't the main criteria, but certainly the president is looking for a justice who will be an intellectual force on the court for many years to come," said one source close to the selection process.

Sources say Obama told colleagues privately he has great respect for the records of federal appeals judges such as David Tatel, Diana Motz, Jose Cabranes, and Amalya Kearse, as well as constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, but is aware all are at least 65. President George W. Bush's two successful 2005 choices -- Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito -- are still in their 50s.



Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITI...tus.obama/index.html
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
I want him to pick a Black person that wouldn't hesitate to LEAP across the bench and whup Clarence Thomas' Eek whenever he voted crazy!!

If that person is Lani ... then I'm definitely wit it! tfro Big Grin

lol

I got it. Appoint Anita Hill to SCOTUS. Clarence would have a seizure sitting on the bench with her.
quote:
Originally posted by kresge:
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
I want him to pick a Black person that wouldn't hesitate to LEAP across the bench and whup Clarence Thomas' Eek whenever he voted crazy!!

If that person is Lani ... then I'm definitely wit it! tfro Big Grin

lol

I got it. Appoint Anita Hill to SCOTUS. Clarence would have a seizure sitting on the bench with her.


LOL ... cleaner & easier .... with even better results ... I like it!! tfro

('Cause CT would definitely have a heart attack and then the Prez could get 2 picks for the price of 1!! lol)
quote:
Originally posted by kresge:
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
I want him to pick a Black person that wouldn't hesitate to LEAP across the bench and whup Clarence Thomas' Eek whenever he voted crazy!!

If that person is Lani ... then I'm definitely wit it! tfro Big Grin

lol

I got it. Appoint Anita Hill to SCOTUS. Clarence would have a seizure sitting on the bench with her.


Forget seizure. Clarence would just go straight into cardiac arrest.
Well ... there still is the chance that she'll be tapped for a district court or an appointment to the Appellate bench.

These appointments would be equally, or arguably more, important than an appointment to the SCOTUS because law is made at the district court level [at a rate of thousands of cases a year] and affirmed [at a lesser rate] at the appellate court level. Very few cases make it to the SCOTUS.

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