Obama, Washington Gear Up for a Fresh Supreme Court Fight
By Ben Pershing
On the 100th day of his term, President Obama averred that he had no interest in running banks or auto companies because he's "got more than enough to do." That became even more true on his 101st day, when the continuing spread of the swine flu was bookended by the morning news that Chrysler would file for bankruptcy and the evening revelation that David Souter plans to retire from the Supreme Court.
All over town, you can hear the permanent but temporarily dormant infrastructure of past judicial battles creaking back to life for another fight. SCOTUSblog says "there has been wide speculation that Souter would leave the Court fairly soon," mainly because "he recently spoke of returning to Washington each year for a new term as if it were something like a lobotomy." The conventional wisdom seems already to be congealing that this retirement won't be that consequential, if only because Obama will likely replace the liberal Souter with another left-leaning nominee. But The Volokh Conspiracy points out that this pick does matter, for the simple reason that "the average Supreme Court justice serves for over 26 years," and so Souter's replacement will make his or her mark on the court for decades to come. Obama's opportunity today is one more that a near-term Republican successor likely won't have.
Vice President Biden has been tasked with drawing up a list of potential replacements, which will give him the chance to compensate for his swine flu gaffe yesterday (raise your hand if you believe Biden actually meant what the White House says he meant). Sonia Sotomayor, Diane Wood, Elena Kagan and a handful of other names are already being mentioned by the Great Mentioners. The early money is on Obama picking a woman for the post.
Posted at 8:30 AM ET on May 1, 2009
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