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Short Shrift

Publication Date: 
April 05, 2010
Dahlia Lithwick

Professors Pamela Karlan and Kathleen Sullivan, along with lecturer in law Thomas Goldstein, are mentioned in Dahlia Lithwick's article on the Supreme Court shortlist:

The press was discovering "hints" that Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens might be stepping down as long ago as September. Then, in March, he fortified the hints in an interview with Jeffrey Toobin, and over the weekend Stevens confirmed that he was indeed thinking about thinking about leaving in interviews with the New York Times' Adam Liptak and the Washington Post's Robert Barnes.

Stevens' cat-and-mouse musings filled the weekend talk shows with noise about filibuster threats to nominees who don't yet exist, as well as a long list of rumors about who is on President Obama's short list to fill a seat that has yet to be vacated.


The most interesting thing about this week's three-person shortlist is who isn't on it. With the exception of Judge Wood, there's nobody on this list to reassure liberals that the court will not continue to move rightward over the course of the Obama presidency. Notably absent are the lawyer/politicians such as Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, which suggests that nobody thinks Obama will risk naming someone with the real-life experience so desperately lacking at the court. Also missing from this court are the legal academics—like Kathleen Sullivan, Laurence Tribe, Cass Sunstein, Harold Koh, or Pam Karlan—who would bring a deeply worked-out constitutional vision to the court. If they are really not being considered, it means the White House isn't looking for a big liberal voice again this time around. Perhaps more intriguing, nobody on this list really has the kind of inspiring American story that Sonia Sotomayor brought to her confirmation. While Obama managed to change the subject from judicial ideology to personal biography last time around, there are few names on this shortlist that shout, "Hey, doing something historic here!"