U.S. Supreme Court

Who would Obama choose next for the Supreme Court?

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The speculation began after President Barack Obama said he expected upcoming U.S. Supreme Court vacancies.

Speaking at a Massachusetts fundraiser last month, Obama said he needs a Democratic Senate partly because “we’re going to have Supreme Court appointments.” The White House later downplayed the statement, saying Obama had no knowledge of a specific vacancy. But Obama’s comments “were enough to kick-start the perennial guessing game” on potential Supreme Court nominees, the National Law Journal reports.

Among the lawyers who surfaced as potential nominees were Patricia Millett, Sri Srinivasan and Paul Watford, all nominated to federal appeals courts by Obama and confirmed by the Senate.

Millett, who has argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court, was confirmed after a change in filibuster rules. Srinivasan, who was born in India, is a former principal deputy solicitor general. Watford, a judge on the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is an African-American who has clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski.

If Justice Ginsburg were to resign, the nominee to replace her would most likely be a woman, observers told the National Law Journal. Millett is often mentioned as a possibility, along with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

The nomination fight would be easier if Obama were nominating a replacement for a liberal justice such as Ginsburg, according to Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network. “It would be seen as trading her in for a younger justice Ginsburg,” Severino told the National Law Journal.

If swing voter Justice Anthony M. Kennedy were to resign, the controversy over a replacement nominee would be greater. “Whoever gets to replace Kennedy, it’s World War III,” Severino told the National Law Journal.

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