Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Nominating America: Obama's 10 Supreme prospects

The anglers’ saying for making a decision — “fish or cut bait” — has rarely attracted so much attention as it has since Sunday, when Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens used the phrase to set the terms for deciding on a time for retiring from the court. “There are still pros and cons to be considered,’ Justice John Paul Stevens told The New York Times. “[But] I do have to fish or cut bait, just for my own personal peace of mind and also in fairness to the process. The president and the Senate need plenty of time to fill a vacancy.”

Stevens’ judicial early warning means that President Obama will nominate the 112th Justice of the Supreme Court — a choice he’ll make amid a political atmosphere more charged and partisan now than it was last year, when Sonia Sotomayor was appointed after reactions from the Senate, the public and right-wing radio that went from the mildly controversial to the downright derogatory (remember Rush Limbaugh’s allusions to Sotomayor as a cleaning woman?). ...

It’s a fact that whoever President Obama nominates to the court will be required to pass a test as fraught with politics as with a command of the law. Olive branches from ranking Senate Republicans notwithstanding, GOP senators can be expected, as a matter of reflex, to oppose whoever he chooses.

And Obama’s progressive-left base isn’t a slam-dunk for support, either; liberals and progressives will call on Obama to make a selection that reflects attention to that constituency — important now, vital in 2012. The one and possibly two appointments Obama may make before long is his chance to make his philosophical imprint on the court whose laws impact Americans like no other.

Ten names that come to mind — most of them previously floated on any number of hypothetical short lists — would offer the president an embarrassment of riches: a range of intellectual and judicial heavyweights reflecting a range of personal perspectives very much like America itself. ...

Read the 10 ready for Supreme consideration at TheGrio.

Image credit: President Obama: Pool image, March 21.

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