I'm sure you know this by now:
Justice David Souter announced Friday that he will retire from the Supreme Court after informing the White House of his plans.Appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 to succeed longtime Justice William Brennan, Souter was expected to be a conservative force on the Court when he was appointed. He turned out to be anything but. His retirement comes as little surprise to those who have known Souter as a laid-back Justice who doesn't like Washington very much.
In a brief letter to President Obama, Souter said, "When the Supreme Court rises for the summer recess this year, I intend to retire from active service as a justice."
So what does President Obama want in a Supreme Court Justice?
"I will seek someone who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or a footnote in a casebook. It is also about how our laws affect ... peoples' lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcomed in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with peoples' hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes. I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role. I will seek somebody who shares my respect for the constitutional values on which this nation was founded and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time."Some names often included in Supreme Court speculation are Solicitior General Elena Kagan; Appeals Court Judges Sonia Sotomayor and Diane P. Wood; and someone named Jennifer Granholm. Note that all of these people are women; Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the only woman currently serving on the Court. Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic and the first non-white woman on the Court.
Those whom Obama doesn't appoint to succeed Souter will likely have a chance to join the court soon. Ginsburg, 76, has dealt with pancreatic cancer, while John Paul Stevens is 89, so I'd be surprised if neither of them retired soon.
Granholm, who clerked for the one and only Appeals Court Judge Damon Keith in the 1980s, has not been a judge and may be seen as more of a political appointment by Obama if she were selected. I would suggest that Obama select Granholm for the vacancy in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals so she can be groomed for the SCOTUS at a later date.