White House officials appear to leaking a couple more names as trial balloons for the Supreme Court, including former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears and federal appeals court judge Sidney Thomas of Montana. I will be discussing the current crop of possible nominees on MSNBC Hardball, withstanding more pressing news events.
Sears has been previously referred to as a possible nominee for Obama during the deliberations leading up to the nomination of Justice Sonia Sotomayor. In 1992, she became the first woman and the youngest person to ever sit on that court. She stepped down in 2009 and is practicing part-time with Schiff Hardin. She is more liberal than some of the other nominees and does have some interesting, well-respected opinions such as her opinion in the Troy Davis case. However, in her reelection, Republicans opposed her as an activist judge and would likely do so again (though they are expected to oppose virtually any nominee in this toxic environment, here and here.
For the Sears story, click here.
Another name released today is that of Ninth Circuit court judge Sidney Thomas of Montana.
The question for academics is often whether a nominee will offer intellectual leadership and depth to the Court. On that scale, Harold Koh (former Yale Dean) and Judge Diane Wood have the advantage. However, it is not clear that Obama is willing to fight for a liberal and, after effectively dropping the nomination of Dawn Johnsen for the Office of Legal Counsel (due to opposition triggered by her stands for human rights), Koh’s opposition to torture and war crimes may be too controversial for some Democrats and Administration officials.