You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Who Will Obama Pick To Replace Souter?

Reports are trickling out that Supreme Court Justice David Souter will soon be retiring from the bench, giving Obama the opportunity to make his first SCOTUS appointment. But who will he choose? Back during the presidential primaries, TNR writer Jeffrey Rosen lamented the fact that Democrats have a surprisingly shallow bench to pick from:

For several decades, presidents have drawn their Supreme Court nominees from the ranks of appellate judges appointed by previous presidents of the same party. And, because the Democrats have been out of the White House for two terms, most of the sitting Democratic appellate judges are too old to be considered plausible Supreme Court candidates. For this reason, a President Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton might have to look for candidates in unexpected places.

Rosen's suggestion? Follow Bush's example with Roberts by promoting someone from private practice to an appellate court first:

A Democratic, female John Roberts would be a highly respected Democratic Supreme Court advocate, and the clear front-runner in that category is Beth S. Brinkmann, 49, a partner at Morrison & Foerster who has argued more than 20 cases before the Court. A lawyer like Brinkmann--moderate, pragmatic, and pro-business--would have no trouble being confirmed to an appellate courtship, but there might not be enough time to get her through: Bush was able to promote Roberts from private practice only because there were no Supreme Court vacancies in his first term. A Democratic president may not have this luxury.

Click here to read the rest of the piece, in which Rosen explores other possibilities from the realms of academia and politics.

--Zvika Krieger