Obama Should Aim for the Center With Court Choice

President has more to gain from picking a centrist who can lead than from a liberal follower
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2009 8:24 AM CDT
Supreme Court Justice David Souter leaves the court in Washington, as the nation awaits the court's ruling in the Florida election case in this Dec. 12, 2000 file photo.   (AP Photo/Kenneth Lambert, File)
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(Newser) – Justice Souter's sayonara gives Democrats a huge (and rare) opportunity to shape the Supreme Court, but President Obama would be wise not to simply appease the party faithful by picking a left-winger, Jonathan Martin writes in Politico. A centrist with leadership skills would be a better choice, Martin argues—somebody much like William I. Brennan, who Souter replaced in 1990.

Brennan was a "liberal but was adept at lobbying his most conservative colleagues," Martin writes. Obama's ability to "round edges" has become one of the most defining aspects of his poltiical identity, Martin argues, and choosing a justice who can build consensus rather than one keen to reignite the culture wars will help the president imprint some of that identity on the court.