SCOTUS Watch 2010 is in full swing, with all eyes trained on President Obama as he prepares to nominate his second Supreme Court justice. Once he announces his choice to replace Justice John Paul Stevens, his pick’s confirmation hearings are destined to become a full-blown Beltway obsession. With high-court chatter in overdrive, we’ll attempt to cut through the noise each week. Here’s what you should know before venturing into the weekend:
First things first: Who’s in the running? While Obama is widely thought to have three frontrunners in mind—Solicitor General Elena Kagan and Federal Appeals Judges Merrick Garland and Diane Wood—there’s still time for a surprise favorite to emerge. The list of possible contenders mentioned in the media draws from just about everywhere: Obama’s cabinet, the senate, law schools, you name it.
But it appears you can strike Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick from the list, as well as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The award for most-creative response to speculation that she’s on the short list goes to Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Now back to those frontrunners. Many on the right are already launching a line of attack against Judge Wood, presumably making her the toughest to confirm of the three favorites. At the same time, many on the left think Obama is playing it too safe and are particularly troubled by the amount of conservative support for Judge Garland.
Some serious court observers say the smart money is on Kagan, and it seems she’d fit right in among the other justices.
In large part, the fate of the soon-to-be vacant ninth spot is in the hands of Washington power couple Bob Bauer and Anita Dunn.
And just for fun, take a look at the survey included in a fundraising e-mail from everybody’s favorite non-maverick.