Who should replace John Paul Stevens?

You have probably heard by now the completely unsurprising news that John Paul Stevens, the leader of the liberal wing of the Supreme Court of the United States, is retiring. Slate solicits the opinions of some legal experts for who should replace him, and there are some good options (Bryan Stevenson is one of my personal favorite dark horse candidates). The front-runners seem to be Diane Wood, Elena Kagan and Merrick Garland — not terrible choices either.

Who are you all placing your bets on, and who are you hoping for?

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22 comments for “Who should replace John Paul Stevens?

  1. April 9, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Someone who is a skeptic of big corporations. We have enough quasi-progressives who believe that the powerful need protection from the people (Breyer, I’m looking at you).

  2. April 9, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    I think that Kagan is the favourite, with perhaps an outside chance of Diane Wood. According to Wikipedia, Garland is “considered a judicial moderate”, so I hope someone more liberal than him is nominated.

    As an aside, considering Scalia’s inflammatory dissent in Lawrence, I wonder how he’d handle having to work with Pam Karlan or Kathleen Sullivan…. Either one would be the first out lesbian on SCOTUS.

  3. Samantha b.
    April 9, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Thomas, Glenn Greenwald is suggesting that Kagan would be another one of those quasi-progressives:
    I have a sinking feeling in my gut that means she’ll be his choice, but I very much hope to be wrong here.

  4. April 9, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Yes! I mean no! NO to Elena Kagan! No no no! Given that Obama has claimed he has the power as the executive to assassinate Americans anywhere in the world with no due process, we so do not want a justice who would allow such unfettered executive reach. So no Elena Kagan.

    I like Stevenson too, actually. Or Wood. Or Koh, although his recent speeches claim sweeping executive war powers, too, which make me nervous.

    I just have to add: I went to see oral argument at SCOTUS not too long ago, and Justice Stevens did his usual stay-quiet-for-awhile thing. He waited until the last attorney stood to give argument, listened for a minute, and then asked him a pointed question so devastating to the entire argument that the lawyer never recovered. The Court will miss Justice Stevens.

  5. Ben
    April 9, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I expect it will be Kagan. She’s close to Obama and has the advantage of being young. I expect that Obama will try to appoint justices as young as possible. Assuming he gets a second term, he would likely be able to appoint a total of six justices. If he appoints a sixty year old, that justice might end up leaving relatively soon after the end of Obama’s second term.

    From the four you listed, I’d pick Wood, if only for the fact that she didn’t go to Harvard Law School.

    Koh would be interesting, if only to read him and Scalia talk shit about one another when the issue of using foreign legal precedents arises.

    I know nothing about Stevenson, but the fact that he hasn’t worked in the DOJ or as a prosecutor is interesting. That’s probably one reason he won’t get the nod though.

  6. April 9, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I would like to see another woman on the court to move closer towards complete parity, but I really hope to have an unashamed Progressive to try to counterbalance the Court’s conservative wing.

  7. Ben
    April 9, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Regarding Kagan or Koh or any of the other potentials allowing executive power grabs, that’d be a feature and not a bug for the President. Presidents, of either party, have and will continue to want to accrue power to themselves.

  8. April 9, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    I’d like to see Ann Claire Williams be the next pick. But I’d bet on it being Kagan or Wood.

  9. cooper
    April 9, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I know there is no chance, but I still dream of Larry Lessig getting the nod for SCOTUS.

  10. Josh
    April 9, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    I saw Bryan Stevenson speak at a Death Penalty CLE about 15 years ago, and he was the best speaker I had ever seen. A plus, or minus, depending on how you look at it, is that he was born and raised in Delaware.

    He would be great, but probably too controversial.

  11. malta
    April 9, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Pamela Karlan is definitely my fave. I’ve been to listen to her talk about fighting for rights through the legal process. One of the other panelists was saying that it’s better to take a moderate position (ie. civil unions) to avoid backlash. Karlan pointed out that you’re asking people to give up their rights–effectively throwing them out of the boat. And she pointed out that if they’re willing to toss people out, is that really a boat we wanted to be in? So yes, I definitely want to be in her boat :)

    Maybe if we were really lucky, Scalia would refuse to serve with a lesbian and then we would have another vacancy!

  12. B
    April 9, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Pam Karlan!

  13. madahlen
    April 9, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    I would love to see Harold Koh, Pam Karlan, or Bryan Stevenson be nominated. The latter two being big time litigators and professors with causes and records, and the other being a professor capable of bringing a notion of sanity back to the Court’s international law jurisprudence does not bode well for their chances, unfortunately.

    I think Elena Kagan will get the nod, sadly. She’s neither terribly objectionable nor terribly exciting.

  14. Seattle Winter
    April 10, 2010 at 1:28 am

    It will never happen, ever ever ever… but: Judge Rienhardt from the 9th Circuit. He is AMAZING. Reading his dissents is like reading little slices (not so little, he often writes 100 pages dissents) of progressive heaven.

  15. GinnyC
    April 10, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Totally hoping for Kimberlé Crenshaw. But I doubt she would be possible politically.

  16. Opie Curious
    April 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Call me a cynic, but the fact that I, along with so many people here and throughout the general progressive movement are head over heels in love with Pam Karlan’s mind is exactly why she won’t be the pick. (Count me among the camp of believers in the idea that nothing makes politicians happier than poking the eyes of hippies.) But she definitely should be; she’s AWESOME.

  17. Zes
    April 10, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    My husband says he wants a woman because, “We’re going to be trying terrorists and it’d serve them right if they end up having to plead to a woman.”

    I love him.

    In order of priority I would take anyone who:
    a) is qualified in their legal knowledge
    b) has lived or at the very least traveled very extensively abroad and studied foreign legal systems, because I despise American exceptionalism (eg America is the only country who cares about freedom so only our forefathers’ opinions count and nuts to Voltaire and John Stuart Mill and all those guys) – I fear it leads to bad and ignorant government and bad law
    c) is female
    d) isn’t white

  18. a lawyer
    April 10, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Seattle Winter–I dream of Reinhardt as well, though he’s far too old even if someone that far left were politically feasible. If the sole criterion were “merit” Judge Posner would be my first choice, but he’s far too conservative to be someone I’d want on the Court.

    I don’t really have an opinion on Kagan vs. Wood vs. Garland, since I don’t know that much about any of them.

  19. rebekah
    April 10, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Zes, the problem in this case with your argument is that they are not there to interpret philosophy, they are there to uphold the constitution of the United States. Whether or not you personally like that doesn’t matter. There are a lot of parts of the constitution a lot of people don’t like(the freedom of religion thing really gets on the conservative’s nerves.) That doesn’t mean that they don’t have to listen to it. Their only job is to protect the constitution in it’s entirety, and nothing more. I do not want them adding their own philosophy in to anything, because then the crazy ass republicans can claim that they get to add their religious beliefs on to everyone else, and that is not acceptable

  20. djf
    April 11, 2010 at 9:40 am

    I think Dershowitz makes a good case for Charles Ogletree.

  21. allison
    April 13, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    elizabeth warren–but it will never happen. she is too progressive and not corporate enough.

  22. David
    April 20, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    My dark horse candidate is Jean Constance Hamilton, Federal judge
    for the US District Court, Eastern District of Missouri. Liberal Republican appointed by George H W Bush in 1992. Would make
    the approval process a lot easier in the Senate.

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