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Sorry, All You Supreme Court Hopefuls …

The list of liberal jurists who might replace one or two justices of the Supreme Court is long. At a party honoring conservative icon Ted Olson two days after the Republicans went down in defeat, the faces were equally long.

The Barack Obama juggernaut dashed the Supreme Court dreams of many who had used the last eight years to make themselves frontrunners in another GOP presidency. Olson was a key member of John McCain’s lawyers committee and would have had a big impact on who was named next.

Among those Olson would have been likely to push were his law partner, constitutional-law expert Miguel Estrada. Olson’s successor as solicitor general, Paul Clement, was considered almost a shoo-in for a court slot. Clement left government in June and hasn’t taken a new job, a sign that he hoped to go to the high court from his teaching position at Georgetown law school.

Olson’s friend and colleague on the McCain campaign, Maureen Mahoney, will content herself with her $1-million-a-year partnership at Latham & Watkins, and Viet Dinh, the brilliant legal scholar who directed many of his conservative friends onto the bench in the last eight years for President Bush, can put himself on the shelf for the next decade. Dinh, who fled Vietnam after McCain was released as a prisoner of war there, could have been McCain’s most memorable pick. Like Clement, Dinh is in his early forties, and his time might come around again.

Related: Top 30 Lawyers in Washington 

This article first appeared in the December 2008 issue of The Washingtonian. For more articles from that issue, click here.  

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