Obama’s 12 Potential Picks to Replace Justice Scalia, Some More Frightening Than Others



Some say Joe Biden is a potential replacement for Justice Scalia because the Senate wouldn’t dare deny him. Others say Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch are potential candidates. Others wonder if he could even nominate himself – Democrats on Twitter seem to think it’s a reasonable question.


Patricia Millett: She is a 52-year-old colleague of another potential nominee Sri Srinivasan on the D.C. Circuit is allegedly popular in both parties and is frequently mentioned as a possible candidate. She argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court as an advocate.

National Review Online had a different view of her however:

D.C. Circuit nominee Patricia Millett is either less qualified or less candid than the typical clerkship applicant, since that is the answer she provided, under oath, when Senator Ted Cruz asked her, ”Describe how you would characterize your judicial philosophy, and identify which U.S. Supreme Court justice’s judicial philosophy from the Warren, Burger, or Rehnquist Courts is most analogous with yours.”

But Millett’s Akin Gump bio credits her with 32 oral arguments at the Supreme Court, and she is well known in D.C. appellate circles, where matters of judicial philosophy are regular topics of conversation. For someone with her experience before the Court to be unfamiliar with the philosophy of any justice in the past half-century would fall somewhere between unprofessional and malpractice. Her clients would be justly outraged if she confessed such ignorance to them, and the Supreme Court Historical Society, on whose Board of Trustees she sits, would probably be reevaluating her role.

She supported Roberts’s bizarre decision to uphold the health care overhaul in an interview with a legal trade publication, Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:

I think the chief justice ruled exactly what he firmly believed in his heart of hearts was the right constitutional answer. He was pretty clear that he might well disagree with the President on policy, but voting on policy is not the job of a Supreme Court justice. The chief justice understood that, while the Court has the duty to enforce the Constitution and to make sure that new laws stay within constitutional bounds, the unelected Supreme Court should be very reluctant to overturn newly enacted legislation and should look for every possible source of constitutional authority for the law. He said that how a provision is labeled — “penalty” instead of “tax” — is not what matters most to the Constitution. The Constitution looks at substance over form. And that is a good thing.

Ms. Millett’s political leanings are a bit more apparent in her campaign contributions: $52,600 to Democratic candidates and committees, including the president’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

When SCOTUSblog asked which case she would argue if she could choose any throughout history, Ms. Millett chose the 1803 case that essentially defined the court’s role: “Marbury v. Madison, of course,” she said. “Just because if women had broken into the Supreme Court bar back then, we’d dominate it by now!”


Sri Srinivasan: The 48-year-old federal appeals court judge was confirmed unanimously in 2013 for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — a traditional steppingstone to the Supreme Court. He would be the court’s first Indian-American justice.

While Srinivasan has defended companies like Enron, he’s also supported by Sandra Day O’Connor and has promoted these cases:

He filed pro bono briefs opposing Indiana’s restrictive voter ID law and supporting affirmative action. Srinivasan successfully prevented a legal immigrant from being deported over a minor gun offense and represented a Spanish-speaking child in Arizona in a case alleging the state had failed to provide enough English-instruction to students learning English as a second language. Srinivasan also successfully represented a criminal defendant before the Supreme Court who had been charged with a felony because he purchased cocaine on his cellphone, when he would have been charged with a misdemeanor otherwise. Srinivasan wrote a brief siding against the government and with the target of unconstitutional surveillance in a brief filed in the important US v. Jones case. Perhaps most importantly for observers wondering whether Srinivasan plays for team blue or team red, he was on the legal team that represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore.


Merrick Garland: The 63-year old Harvard educated attorney and Clinton appointee to the DC Circuit, clerked with Justice Brennan. Garland is older than most nominees, since presidents want their choices to stick around for decades on the bench. He is a moderate who serves as chief judge on the D.C. Circuit court and could be a compromise choice.

Judge Garland is regarded as more neutral though his record most often did not involve hot button issues, however, when it comes to cases involving a government agency as in environmental law cases, civil rights and so on, he sides with the agency. Judge Garland has strong views favoring deference to agency decision makers according to Scotusblog.


Kamala Harris: California’s attorney general, 51, could be another leading candidate. She has the added luster of holding political office, a life experience that is sorely lacking on the Supreme Court. She’s currently running for the U.S. Senate seat of retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer. She is a big Obama donor.

Her brother-in-law is Tony West who was an Assistant Attorney General under Obama Attorney General Eric Holder. He currently serves as Executive Vice President of Government Affairs, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for PepsiCo, Inc.

Tony West was a BIG campaign bundler for Barack Obama in 2008.

This is from the San Francisco Chronicle report in 2009 –

As co-chairman of Obama’s campaign, West was instrumental in helping the candidate raise an estimated $65 million in California and has been considered a rising star in both the legal and political circles of the nation’s most populous state. He is an attorney in the San Franciscooffices of Morrison & Foerster.

In 2007, Mr. West was a member of the “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh’s defense team. He was considered al Qaeda’s attorney. He believes terrorism is a matter for criminal courts and not military tribunals. He does not believe any enemy of the United States is a terrorist. He has a history of vigorously supporting Al Qaeda terrorists and is now in charge of the GITMO terrorists’ trials. It puts him in a supervisory position of the government lawyers charged with prosecuting the terrorists.

Harris herself has been known for slanting ballot language. She recently wasted no time jumping to the side of the Obama administration in its legal fight to preserve the president’s executive orders granting deportation relief to millions of illegal immigrants and is a strong LGBT supporter. She’s not particularly tough on crime and is often greeted cooly by law enforcement. She is opposed to the death penalty, even for cop killers.


Jacqueline Nguyen: The Asian-American judge, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, has been mentioned frequently in the initial hours after Scalia’s death. At 50, she is the perfect age for a nominee. The American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession honored her with its 2015 Spirit of Excellence Award for her commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession.

The mission of the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession is to promote racial and ethnic diversity and inclusion within the legal profession. The commission serves as a catalyst for change, so that the profession may more accurately reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of society and better serve society. The commission promotes the recruitment, hiring, promotion and advancement of attorneys of color and works to ensure equal membership and employment opportunities for diverse lawyers in the ABA. The commission accomplishes all this through many initiatives, activities and programs, including the annual Spirit of Excellence Award.


Amy Klobuchar: If the Senate would be less inclined to block one of its own, the senior senator from Minnesota, 55, might be someone Obama would consider. She is a reliable left-winger and is often in line with Carl Levin and Al Franken.

A group of 14 Democrat senators wrote a letter in May of last year to President Obama urging him to “dramatically increase” the number of Syrian refugees being resettled into American cities and towns.

They want an immediate influx of 65,000 Syrian Muslims as permanent refugees by the end of 2016. There are 4 million registered as refugees with the U.N. They want us to take 350,000 with other “third-party countries.”

The 14 senators, led by Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., cite the research of the Refugee Council USA to make their case for 65,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. RCUSA is the main lobbying arm of the nine agencies that contract with the federal government to resettle refugees in cities and towns across America.


Sheldon Whitehouse: See “Senate” above. Whitehouse, 60, the junior senator from Rhode Island, is a former attorney general of Rhode Island and U.S. attorney with strong credentials.

Whitehouse is known for wanting to jail climate change deniers using RICO laws no less.

He wants scientists, TV outlets, the “vast denial apparatus” sued. Is he approaching Fascism-lite?

In a Washington Post article, Whitehouse compared global warming deniers and the fossil fuel industry to the tobacco industry, calling for them to be charged under the RICO Act.

The tobacco industry was prosecuted for racketeering after they misled the public about the dangers of tobacco. Many of the things he accused the deniers of doing are things his global warming industry does – Climategate being one example.

The RICO Act was used to break up the mobs which is what he must believe climate deniers are. Free speech is not allowed if you deny his take on things which some of us think is extreme.

He apparently believes that coordinating “a wide range of activities, including political lobbying, contributions to political candidates, and a large number of communication and media efforts” are racketeering and not our First Amendment rights.


Cory Booker: The third in a triumverate of senators who could be chosen if Obama wants to put Republican senators on the spot by threatening to block one of their own. Booker, 46, the former Newark, N.J., mayor, has been in the Senate since 2013.

What has Cory done – nothing – especially not for Newark. Booker recently said Hillary Clinton was most like George Washington.

The left-wing Daily Beast wrote a very unflattering article about him. Here’s an excerpt:

Months after he first entered the Senate, the New Jersey comptroller alleged that under Booker’s watch—or, more likely, because he was not watching—corruption ran rampant at a publicly funded water-treatment and reservoir-management agency, where Booker’s former law partner served as counsel. And speaking of his former law career: Despite having resigned from his law firm once entering the mayor’s office, Booker received annual payments until 2011, during which time the firm was profiting handsomely off of Brick City. That would be the Brick City that Booker professed to love with the fire of a thousand suns, but did little to fundamentally change. Murder, violent crime, unemployment, and taxes all rose dramatically under his stewardship.


Paul Watford: A judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, Watford, 48, is another Obama nominee with a potentially stellar future and who is popular with the left-wing NAACP. Some court-watchers expect the African-American judge to be Obama’s first choice. He was was a law clerk for Judge Alex Kozinski on the 9th Circuit in Pasadena, as well as for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


Pam Karlan, 53: A Stanford Law School professor, Karlan is on the administration’s judicial radar and is a leading voice on the legal left, making her a perennial favorite pick for liberals. She is an “out” LGBT member.


Goodwin Liu, 42: A justice on the California Supreme Court, and is a highly reliable voice of the legal left.


Jane Kelly: She is a 51-year-old judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit who was a career public defender. From Iowa, she has enjoyed the prior support of Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee. She was appointed by Barack Obama.

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Ron Star
Ron Star
6 years ago

We favor either Matlock, Perry Mason, or Judd for the defense! Anybody but Obama, Holder, Clinton, Lynch, or Biden!

Herbert R.
Herbert R.
6 years ago

All of them pose a great danger to what is left of our freedoms. “Put on the full armor God, that you may be able to stand firm [defend] against the schemes of the devil. (Eph. 6:11). We are approaching turbulent times in our beloved country. May the GRACE OF GOD BE WITH US!!