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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Deval Patrick On Obama's SCOTUS Nominee Short List

Obama’s Top Ten U.S. Supreme Court Picks

Here's the List folks:

1.) Elena Kagan (49), Solicitor General of the United States. The likeliest candidate, and it was somewhat of a surprise she didn’t get picked last time. Pluses: would please much of Obama’s base, follows diversity politics of Sotomayor with first openly gay justice (so would Karlan and Sullivan). [Update: While Karlan and Sullivan are open about it, I have to correct my text here to say that Kagan is apparently still closeted -- odd, because her female partner is rather well known in Harvard circles.] [Update: see my apology to Ms. Kagan at Huffington Post] Minuses: Seen as too moderate by some on the left; people like Arianna Huffington and Glenn Greenwald strongly dislike her because of her positions on executive power and anti-terror activities. Could be seen as a thumb in the eye of the civil liberties folks.

2.) Diane Wood (59) of 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The second most likely candidate, at least according to conventional wisdom. Pluses: whip smart, beloved by liberals, would be a strong force on the court. Minuses: Will turn 60 before she would be seated; more importantly, this would be a court fight purely about abortion, and the likeliest to spark furious response from the right.

3.) Cass Sunstein (55) of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Pluses: massive liberal brain, unquestioned for his scholarly ability. Minuses: has some personal issues, the break with Martha Nussbaum was a messy one, and has a long paper trail on everything under the sun. Is disliked by the civil liberties left, but Sunstein’s opinions are for the most part consistent with what Obama’s done as president (if not what he actually promised while running). Bonus Plus/Minus: as I was one of very few conservative bloggers to support Sotomayor’s nomination as the best candidate of a bad lot, I would similarly find Sunstein in that position this year, as does Pejman Yousefzadeh.

4.) Pam Karlan (51) of Stanford. Pluses: Karlan is frequently called a liberal dreamboat candidate, and deservedly so thanks to her acidic approach. This would make up for any disatisfaction with Sotomayor for the left. Minuses: Video like this abounds thanks to Karlan’s constant media appearances, and she didn’t make his list before for a reason.

5.) Merrick Garland (58) of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Safe choice, loved by the Washington insiders, boring liberal with a moderate temperament. Pluses: would probably get the most votes and the least opposition, and get approved well before November. Minuses: really doesn’t get the White House anything — loved by all the Ivy League insiders who already adore Obama.

6.) Harold Koh (55) of the State Department. Pluses: Koh would be a brilliant, kamikaze pick, designed to make the civil libertarians do flips, and with the kind of inspirational family story Obama liked so much in Sotomayor. Minuses: After Wood, maybe the second most divisive candidate. Harold Koh’s background is, as Ted Bromund has written, that of a profoundly dedicated transnationalist.

7.) Kathleen Sullivan (55) of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. Pluses: Former mentor Laurence Tribe called her “the most extraordinary student I had ever had.” Strong liberal who’s passed up other opportunities for a shot at the federal bench. Minuses: Failed her first try at the bar exam. And Dahlia Lithwick would have a lot of fun writing about her.

8.) Jennifer Granholm (51) of Michigan. Only included because she’s always mentioned, including again by the WaPo here. Pluses: parachutes a young former rising star into a court where she will toe the political line. Minuses: brings the focus on how much she’s effed up Michigan, seems like pure political silliness to discuss her as a replacement for a liberal institution like Stevens.

9.) Gov. Deval Patrick (53) of Massachusetts. Similar calculus to Granholm, and one that would surely have an advocate in David Axelrod within the White House. Pluses: parachutes a young former rising star into a court where he will toe the political line (also, maybe you’ll goad a Conservative into calling him an Affirmative Action pick).

which brings us to…drumroll…

10.) Hillary Clinton (62) of the U.S. State Department. Now that you’ve stopped laughing, consider: here’s one way of getting rid of what remains a dicey political problem, rewarding a crew of still-bitter supporters, ensuring easy Senate passage (talk about a nominee as vetted as it gets) while firmly reasserting control over what is steadily becoming your administration’s rogue department at Foggy Bottom. Pluses: She’s Hillary Clinton.

Minuses: She’s Hillary Clinton.

Deval Patrick Once Again Listed As Possible 2010 U.S. Supreme Court Nominee

A rumor that has circulated since at least 2007 has returned for a comeback tour.

With the impending retirement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, some are including Gov. Deval Patrick on the White House List of potential replacements.

When Supreme Court Justice David Souter retired in 2009, Patrick's name appeared on several lists of possible replacements.

This time around, Patrick may have more of an edge, as notes:

Other possible contenders could be Cass Sunstein, 55, an old law school associate of Obama's and head of a key White House agency, and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, 53, a longtime friend of the president's. Some insiders reportedly favor Patrick, but he's seeking re-election this fall to governorship.

Other opinions on the possibility of a Patrick nomination from around the web:

* In, Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick write that, as a nominee, Patrick could provoke a confirmation battle.

Some advisers in the White House may look to Deval Patrick or Harold Koh, both of whom are lawyers of distinction and would be attractive from a diversity perspective. But frankly, in this season of Tea Party madness, these nominees could easily get roughed up early and rejected or blocked.

* Ezra Klein of writes that Patrick's recent political experience could be seen as a factor in favor of his nomination.

Alternately, Obama could appoint a politician capable of whipping votes on the court more effectively than a typical nominee. The model here would be Earl Warren, whose background as governor of California some credit with giving him a knack for gaining the votes of fellow justices.

The hope would be that a nominee coming from a political career – retiring Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick are the obvious options here – would be better able to persuade Anthony Kennedy to form a majority with the court's liberals.

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Sources: CNN, Huffington Post,, New Ledger, The Slate, Washington Post, Youtube, Google Maps

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