Supreme Court Nominations

Who will Obama nominate to replace Scalia? Here are some possibilities

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died Saturday at the age of 79.

Updated: Who will President Barack Obama nominate to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court? Predictions are being made, and some names are being mentioned more than others.

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin believes Obama will pick Judge Sri Srinivasan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, who was confirmed unanimously, HuffPost Politics reports. Srinivasan formerly worked in BigLaw and in the U.S. Solicitor General’s office in Republican and Democratic administrations. He has argued 25 Supreme Court cases. He was born in India and would be the first Asian-American on the high court. Srinivasan is also being mentioned by the National Law Journal (sub. req.), the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.), the New York Times and USA Today.

SCOTUSblog founder Tom Goldstein, meanwhile, predicted that President Obama could nominate Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Goldstein said Lynch could provide political benefit. In his view, Republicans in the Senate will drag out the nominations process and then reject her nomination. That would motivate black and women voters to vote for a Democrat in the presidential election.

In a later SCOTUSblog post, Goldstein said his thinking has evolved, and he believes U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of Washington, D.C., could get the nomination. Jackson, a former federal public defender and BigLaw appellate litigator, would be the first black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court if she were affirmed.

Goldstein has a history of correct predictions: Before the election of Obama, he predicted that Sonia Sotomayor would be Obama’s first nominee. And before Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement, Goldstein predicted that Obama would pick Elena Kagan to replace him.

Above the Law decided to create gambler’s odds for nominees. Most unlikely were Bill or Hillary Clinton, followed by Barack Obama (nominating himself) and Elizabeth Warren. Most likely were Srinivasan, followed by U.S. Solicitor General Don Verrilli.

Other possibilities include:

• Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Two political science professors suggested in a Baltimore-Sun op-ed that O’Connor, 86, could serve for a couple years before retiring to allow the appointment of a younger justice. O’Connor retired in 2006 to care for her husband, who died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease in 2009. She continues to hear cases on federal appeals courts.

• Judge Paul Watford of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a former federal prosecutor. Goldstein suggested Watford, an African-American, would get the nomination before he changed his mind and said the nominee could be Lynch or Jackson.

• Judge Patricia Millett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. A former BigLaw partner, she has argued 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, more than any other woman.

• Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, an African-American former BigLaw lawyer.

• Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a former federal prosecutor and Justice Department official.

• Judge Jane Kelly of the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a former federal public defender who was confirmed unanimously in 2013.

Many court watchers had also considered California Attorney General Kamala Harris as a potential nominee, but she said she is not interested because she is running for the U.S. Senate.

Updated on Feb. 18 to include O’Connor and Jackson as possible nominees.

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