News & Politics

SCOTUS Watch

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a timeline! This week, we found out that President Obama intends to announce his nominee no later than May 26—emphasis on the “no later than” since Obama has said he hopes to have a pick even sooner.

The president also addressed the most contentious issue when it comes to SCOTUS: a woman’s right to choose. Though he won’t require his pick to pass any “litmus tests” on abortion, Obama said: “I am somebody who believes that women should have the ability to make often very difficult decisions about their own bodies and issues of reproduction.”

With a deadline in place, Obama has been busy consulting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who’ll ultimately hold the confirmation hearings for his nominee. As of Thursday, Obama had talked with all 19 senators on the panel.

So who are they talking about? The consistently mentioned frontrunners are still Solicitor General Elena Kagan and federal appeals court judges Merrick Garland and Diane Wood. Many believe Kagan is the leader of that bunch, which means the spotlight on her record as SG is burning extra hot.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Judge Sidney Thomas of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals are also being talked about as serious contenders. And a new name popped up on the short list this week—Ann Claire Williams, another federal appeals court judge, but she appears to be a long shot.

Speaking of long shots, we got an incidental peak into just how unrealistic the prospect of a Justice Hillary Clinton really was. If you somehow missed the New York Times’ fascinating profile of Politico’s Mike Allen, check out the part that points out how Allen was the one to start the Clinton rumor.

Sure, there’s been lots of discussion about gender and racial diversity on the high-court bench, but should religion matter, too?

And finally, we can’t ignore the unfounded rumors about Kagan’s sexuality that began making the rounds last week and remain part of the dialogue. We tend to agree with the headline of this editorial. But over at the Atlantic, Marc Ambinder has a thoughtful take.

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Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She oversees the magazine’s real estate and home design coverage, and also writes long-form feature stories. She was a 2020 Livingston Award finalist for her two-part investigation into a possible wrongful conviction stemming from a murder in rural Virginia. Kashino lives in Northeast DC.

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