Whom will President Barack Obama nominate for the Supreme Court vacancy left by the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia? For once, the same question is eating away the hearts of both liberals and conservatives alike.
As many political analysts have noted, Obama finds himself in the difficult position of hitting the perfect balance in a nominee. If he goes too liberal, he risks getting shot down by Congress while the clock ticks toward the end of his term and a potential GOP president. If he goes too conservative, he could waste a pivotal opportunity to influence the Supreme Court’s nail-biting tipping point with a swap-out of Antonin.
As an editorial in The Nation noted, Obama may already know exactly where that Supreme Court nominee sweet spot lies. Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor were both confirmed with bipartisan support during his term. That’s not to say, argued the opinion piece, Obama is unaware of how much he selects will dictate his ability to shape Scalia’s replacement.
“It fell to President Obama to show respect both for the memory of Justice [Antonin] —who he recognized as ‘one of the most consequential judges and thinkers to serve on the Supreme Court’ and as a jurist who ‘dedicated his life to the cornerstone of our democracy: the rule of law’—and for the dictates of the Constitution. ‘I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time,’ said Obama. ‘There will be plenty of time for me to do so, and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote.’
Though some Republican hopefuls have stated that a nomination in his final year would be unprecedented, the historical record tells a different story — a total of 17 Supreme Court justices have been appointed during a lame duck presidency throughout American history, reported Think Progress. The timing of Scalia’s death is nothing new for American politics.
CORRECTED: 17 Supreme Court Justices confirmed by Senate during presidential election year (- Jay in original list) pic.twitter.com/W0EhMP1LIm
— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) February 14, 2016
Still, these strategic advantages alone cannot seamlessly usher Obama’s pick into the Supreme Court. Because of that, his most likely nominee is Srikanth “Sri” Srinivasan, as previously reported The Inquisitr. Srinivasan has several sizable advantages, the foremost of which is that a unanimous 97-0 Senate vote already named him a justice for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 2013. Among the senators who voted “yes” for him were Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, complicating arguments against him for Antonin’s replacement.
Still, Srikanth hasn’t quite been officially ordained as Scalia’s replacement. Although Sri was also their top pick, Politico also named four other judges who could potentially be the next Supreme Court justice. Perhaps the most recognizable name is current Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who faced a difficult ascension to her current position due to a lack of GOP support. Additionally, the news site noted that her title could limit her because “all her decisions as attorney general could be seen as opportunities to either advance or set back her nomination.”
Paul Watford, currently serving on the 9th circuit, was another name thrown out by the publication. While he doesn’t hold the decisive nomination victory of Sri, he did manage to be voted in with a clear majority in 2012 — 61-34. Also listed was Patricia Ann Millet, who like Loretta also faced opposition from Republicans during her 2013 nomination for the D.C. circuit. Finally, Clinton-apppointed D.C. judge Merrick Garland also got a mention — though Politico did concede that he was a bit older than the average Supreme Court justice nominee.
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