Obama May Look Off-Court to Fill Souter Vacancy

Expect a woman from outside appeals circuit
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2009 7:54 AM CDT
Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears looks over papers at her desk during arguments in the case of Genarlow Wilson Friday, July 20, 2007, in Atlanta.    (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
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(Newser) – With everyone attempting to predict President Obama's thinking on a nominee to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court, CBS News makes two observations. The White House has dropped hints that it wants someone who is not a federal appeals court judge—as all nine current justices once were. And the president will very likely choose a woman to join Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the bench.

Some names being floated are:

  • Elena Kagan, newly named solicitor general and former dean of Harvard Law School (Obama's alma mater)
  • Jennifer Granholm, who went from Harvard Law to federal prosecutor to Michigan governor
  • Kathleen Sullivan, former dean of Stanford Law, a constitutional law scholar who once failed the bar
  • Leah Ward Sears, chief justice of Georgia, the first black woman in any state to hold that position
If Obama plumps for an appeals justice, look for Diane Wood in Chicago or Sonia Sotomayor in New York. And Cass Sunstein could get the nod "if the White House picks a white guy." (Read more David Souter stories.)