Souter to Retire: Who Will Obama Pick to Replace Him?

May 1, 2009

(ChattahBox)— Supreme Court Justice David Souter, at 69-years old, revealed this week he plans to retire after nearly two decades on the bench, at the end of the current term in June. Souter, a Bush appointee, is viewed by conservatives as a failure, even considered a “stealth” candidate, as he joined with the liberals on the court in many decisions, most notably as a dissenter in the 2000 decision in Bush v. Gore, which handed over the presidency to Bush in a controversial politicized decision.

The news of Souter’s retirement immediately roused speculation of possible Obama picks, a popular parlor game that will only increase in intensity until the White House floats some names. This will be Obama’s first chance to leave his mark on the makeup of the Supreme Court with his own nominee.

Although no official letter of resignation has been delivered to the White House, it’s now widely known in Washington, Souter is already packing his bags to leave the capital, which he despised, for his New England farm in his cherished home state of New Hampshire. Souter is a confirmed bachelor, who keeps to himself, famous for shunning technology, writing his lengthy opinions in longhand on a legal pad.

Souter is also known as a legal scholar who has a great love and appreciation for jurisprudence, treating each case individually, refusing to politicize the legal process, often times surprising both liberals and conservatives with his decisions. At just 69, Souter is considered a “young” Supreme Court retiree, with liberal justices, Ruth Ginsburg, 76, and John Stevens, 89, expected to retire after Souter.

You have to wonder if Souter waited until a democrat was in office before announcing his retirement. He is said to have been furious and disgusted with the politicization of the Supreme Court in its Bush v. Gore decision

So, who are the possible candidates that Obama may consider to replace Souter? Some Washington insiders have their money on a woman, as Justice Ginsberg, is now only woman on the bench.

What qualities might Obama be looking for in a Supreme Court Justice? He has said during his presidential campaign, he would seek a candidate who has life experience and empathy for others, who has lived outside the confines of the courtroom.

Some possible female candidates fitting that criteria are being floated about by the media today, including Hispanic, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Sonia Sotomayor, considered a liberal, a Yale grad with nearly 20 years of experience in the courtroom; also mentioned is current Solicitor General, Elena Kagan, former Dean of Harvard Law School, former Associate Counsel to President Bill Clinton and a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Another possible female candidate floated about is a judge serving in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Chicagoan, Diane Wood. She is considered a strong liberal contender, but has strong pro-choice views, which may make her nomination difficult, especially in light of recent Republican obstructionism in holding up the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius as Health Secretary, because of her pro-choice views.

Some possible male candidates: include Seth Waxman, a U.S. Solicitor General of the United States, a Yale grad and defender of habeas corpus rights for Guantanamo detainees; and Harold Koh, a brilliant legal mind, Dean of Yale Law School, also an Asian-American, currently the nominee for legal advisor to the State Department, with his nomination stalled by Republicans, who are currently running a smear campaign against him, erroneously claiming he favors International law over U.S. law and, even supports Islamic Sharia law.

Once Koh is hopefully confirmed to his State Department post, Obama will most likely breathe a sigh of relief and leave him where he is.

Two more female long shot names mentioned are: Leah Ward Sears, Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, Kathleen Sullivan, Former Dean of Stanford Law, Teresa Wynn Roseborough, African American, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Clinton administration, now working for an insurance company, MetLife as a corporate legal counsel.

All these names are just speculation, as President Obama certainly has his own choices and he may surprise everyone, like Bush did in appointing Souter, plucking him out of relative obscurity from New Hampshire, and the rest is history.

Source: Huffington Post


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