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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET


Lee Ross

Supreme Court


Who Will Obama Pick for the Supreme Court?

April 9, 2010 - 11:43 AM | by: Lee Ross

The speculation on who will replace Justice John Paul Stevens was going on long before he sent his resignation letter to President Obama Friday. In fact, the topic of Obama’s second high court nomination came up during the battle over his first.

“It wouldn’t at all surprise me if some of the very same people were back in the Oval Office,” White House Chief of Staff David Axelrod said when asked about the next Supreme Court nomination while Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination was still pending before the Senate.

Those same people would include federal appellate court judge Diane Wood, Solicitor General Elena Kagan and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. In recent months most attention has been focused on Wood and Kagan.

Wood is well known in legal circles for her strong opinions on the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. She was also part of the faculty at Chicago Law School when Obama taught Constitutional law. She is also very familiar to Stevens who is responsible for overseeing the Seventh Circuit and is a Chicago native. Though that connection would unlikely be a decisive factor into her selection.

Kagan is the former dean of the Harvard Law School and is well-regarded for her performance there in controlling a fractious faculty and reaching out to conservatives. She has already successfully navigated through the Senate Confirmation process to become Solicitor General. Kagan is also something of an unknown entity because she has never been a judge and as a result has a thin paper trail of past positions.

Of course, the president is free to select anyone he wants and speculation will likely run rampant in the weeks to come. Here is how we assess the possible selections:


Diane Wood, Judge Seventh Circuit

Elena Kagan, Solicitor General


Merrick Garland, Judge DC Circuit COA

Leah Ward Sears, Former Chief Justice of Georgia Supreme Court.

Kathleen Sullivan, Professor and former dean of Stanford Law School

Cass Sunstein, Former Chicago & Harvard Law Professor, leads Obama Administration’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Pam Karlan, Stanford Law professor

Janet Napolitano, Secy DHS

Jennifer Granholm, Michigan Governor



Rosemary Barkett, Judge 11th Circuit

Fortunato Benavides, Judge 5th Circuit

Christine Arguello, U.S. District Court Judge Denver

Ruben Castillo, Judge USDC Northern District of Illinois

Karen Nelson Moore, Judge 6th Circuit

Jose Cabranes, Judge 2nd Circuit

David Tatel, Judge DC Circuit COA

Deval Patrick, Massachusetts Governor

Marsha Berzon, Judge 9th Circuit

Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General

Charles Ogletree, Law Professor Harvard Law School

Kim Wardlaw, Judge Ninth Circuit

Seth Waxman, Former Solicitor General. Lawyer at Wilmer Hale

Harold Koh, Former Dean Yale Law School–Counsel to State Dept.

Ken Salazar, Interior Secretary


Judge David Hamilton, 6th Circuit

Judge Andre Davis, 4th Circuit

Judge Gerard Lynch, 2nd Circuit

Judge Joseph A. Greenaway, Jr., 3rd Circuit

Judge Beverly B. Martin, 11th Circuit

Jane Branstetter Stranch, 6th Circuit

Judge Thomas Vanaskie, 3rd Circuit

Justice Barbara Milano Keenan, 4th Circuit

Judge Danny Chin, 2nd Circuit

Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson, 1st Circuit

Judge Albert Diaz, 4th Circuit

Judge James Wynn, 4th Circuit

Goodwin Liu: 9th Circuit

Judge Robert N. Chatigny

Scott M. Matheson, Jr., 10th Circuit

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