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"We Need Courage": Will Obama Nominate a Justice Who Can Help Restore Justice?

Publication Date: 
April 14, 2010
The Huffington Post
Shahid Buttar

Professor Pamela Karlan is listed in this Huffington Post article as one of the "best nominees" to succeed Justice Roberts in the U.S. Supreme Court. Shahid Buttar reports:

In the retirement of Justice Stevens, President Obama has an immense opportunity -- should his Administration demonstrate the courage to engage it -- to begin the lagging project of reshaping a key Washington institution, while also mobilizing his liberal base heading into the mid-term elections.

After 35 years of service on the nation's highest Court, Stevens's retirement offers two broad sets of possibilities. The Administration could choose a moderate successor to appease the right wing, setting the Court back even further on a historic slide to the right that has choked our nation's jurisprudence for a generation. Or, if willing to embrace the Obama campaign's rhetoric and inspire its base heading into the midterm elections, the Administration could select a legal champion to help begin the long overdue process of bringing the Court back into the legal mainstream.


Best Nominees: Wood, Karlan, and Clinton


Law professor Pamela Karlan from Stanford Law School is a lion, a bona fide visionary whose confirmation battle would likely prove contentious, but whose service on the Court would be unmatched. Moreso than anyone else in the country, Karlan wields the intellect, incisiveness, and accessibility to shift the Court's future direction. There is simply no one in her league: her intellect is a force of nature, her mettle has been tested by a career serving on the front lines of numerous struggles for social justice and equality, and her extraordinary wit ensures a popular influence to which no other jurist can even aspire. She is easily the strongest, most transformative potential nominee; the question is whether (as he pretended with Sotomayor) the President has the courage to nominate her.

If he does not, the best alternative could be within his own Cabinet: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Although abused by an unforgiving political sphere, Clinton would shine on the Supreme Court. With numerous Senate allies in both parties, her confirmation would be secure, and unlike any of the other potential nominees considered by the White House, she brings to bear significant political experience as an elected official. Where Karlan's wit could enable her to popularize the work of the Court, Clinton's experience as a politician could enable an even faster (though less robust) path to judicial influence: appealing to Justice Kennedy.

Without the tools to translate the Court's arcana into compelling popular terms, combined with a forceful and expansive vision of the law, Stevens' successor will ultimately help tighten the right wing's grip on the Court. With a champion like Karlan or Clinton guarding the Constitution, however, the Court's conservative majority will face meaningful opposition for the first time since Justice Thurgood Marshall retired 20 years ago.