Despite the possibility being years off, there are already questions about whether Justices Ginsburg and Breyer will retire if President Obama wins a second term in November. Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog has even added to the speculation.
He thinks Justice Ginsburg is the more likely candidate, and predicts she'll retire during the second term's third year. He also thinks Kamala Harris, California's Attorney General, is the most likely to replace her.
Goldstein's analysis is quite interesting. He thinks Ginsburg's replacement must be a woman for the purposes of maintaining gender balance. She'll have to be a racial minority, too. Otherwise, the candidate will likely be:
- a Democrat;
- well-known in political circles;
- between 42 and 52 years of age;
- have knowledge of issues commonly before the Supreme Court; and
- have policy or judicial experience.
Kamala Harris fits every characteristic on this list. Before being elected to the statewide office in 2010, she was the District Attorney of San Francisco and spent several years working as a deputy prosecutor. Her mother is a Tamil immigrant and her father is Jamaican-American. She'll be 50 in 2013.
Despite opposing legalization of marijuana and driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, she's incredibly liberal. She supports gay marriage and vehemently opposes the death penalty. Some also accused her of not being tough enough on crime.
In other words, Kamala Harris may be the perfect person to replace Justice Ginsburg, but she'll be a tough sell. Unless the political status quo changes between now and then.
- Who Will Be Obama's Next Supreme Court Pick? Blog Points to California AG Kamala Harris (ABA Journal)
- Ginsburg and Scalia: Raising the Bar for Supreme Court Friendship (FindLaw's Supreme Court Blog)
- Justice Ginsburg Safe, Speaks at Hastings College of Law (FindLaw's Supreme Court Blog)