Alright folks, I really have no idea how it will go down, but these are my predictions of the order of the nominations selected from the top ten prospects as listed by Salon.
I have no real additional insight into the picks and order aside from my gut feeling.
Nonetheless, here are my picks in order of their future nomination.
Nomination Pick #1
Sonia Sotomayor, 54 — After growing up in a Bronx housing project, Sotomayor has risen to become a judge on one of the most powerful courts in the land: the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. As a Hispanic woman, Sotomayor would make an attractive candidate if Obama is looking to diversify the court. There has never been a Hispanic on the Supreme Court, and there is only one woman currently on the bench, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Sotomayor might also have bipartisan appeal. She is politically moderate, and President George H.W. Bush appointed her to her first judgeship. (link)
Obama’s first appointment should rightly be a woman, seeing as they are more than 50% of the population and have one representative on the bench. I believe she will be the first appointment because she is an uncontroversial slightly liberal woman, and would be the first latino to boot.
Nomination Pick #2
Cass Sunstein, 54 — A preeminent and prolific law scholar and an advisor to Obama’s presidential campaign, Sunstein was a colleague of Obama’s at the University of Chicago and now teaches at Harvard Law School. Sunstein has decried the Supreme Court’s more conservative justices, including Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. He calls them judicial fundamentalists who have advocated “earthquake-like” changes in the law. Sunstein argues for a minimalist approach to jurisprudence. He believes justices’ decisions should be narrowly tailored to the case at hand and should lean heavily on precedent. Sunstein has said minimalists believe “the Supreme Court is not our national policy maker.” (link)
Obam loves this guy and he’s unmatched in expertise on just about everything (also currently an advisor to the Obama campaign). He is a firm and compelling answer to Roberts. He is not very liberal but will certainly side with liberals most of the time, and write compelling well reasoned decisions. He is also a personal friend of Obama’s, and about to marry Samantha Power, an advisor and friend of Obama’s (who called Clinton a monster)
Nomination Pick #3
Harold Hongju Koh, 53 — The dean of Yale Law School is a Korean-American and an expert on international law and human rights. From 1998 to 2001, he served as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor under President Clinton. He also worked in the Department of Justice. Koh is considered a staunch liberal. He has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. He said in an interview with the Yale newspaper that gay rights are especially important to him. Koh also served as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. (link)
Elena Kagan, 48 — Few names have been floated as often as a potential Obama nominee as Kagan, the dean of the Harvard Law School — Obama’s alma mater. Like Obama, she also taught at the University of Chicago. Kagan served in Clinton’s White House as an associate counsel and domestic policy advisor. Clinton nominated her for a position on the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, but Republicans stalled her approval. Kagan clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (link)
I lean heavily towards Koh. The choice will depend on how the issue of gender is playing out. I think Obama would prefer to add an expert in international law (i.e. Koh), in order to bring this jurisprudence into the Supreme Court’s decisions. I think he would also like to appoint the first Asian-American to the bench. However, the legitimate need to right the gender imbalance, and Hillary’s previous identity politic war between race and gender, may make Kagan the pick. Although Koh is even more likely after her nomination to Secretary of State.
Nomination Pick #4
Deval Patrick, 52 — As the first African-American governor of Massachusetts and a friend of Barack Obama’s, Patrick is often mentioned as a potential Supreme Court nominee. Patrick would bring something that is in short supply on the court: executive experience. But he would also bring a major risk: He has never served in the judiciary. Despite that gap in his résumé, he has some background in the law. Before he was governor, Patrick was a lawyer and President Clinton appointed him the assistant attorney general for civil rights in 1994 — the nation’s highest civil rights position. Patrick is solidly liberal and supports a number of positions, such as same-sex marriage, that could make him a target for Republicans during the confirmation process.
Let’s face it, if Obama gets a second term he’s nominating Patrick, cause that’s his boy. There’s also a moral or strategic goal of taking away Thomas’ judicial monopoly on speaking on issues of blackness from the highest court.
Patrick will be more likely to accept after finishing a term or two as the first black governor of MA. Also, Obama trusts him, shares many views with him, and would leave him as his remaining legacy.
These are my four prediction picks, and my predicted order.