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7 Potential Supreme Court Justices Who Aren't Sri Srinivasan

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on February 17, 2016 11:03 AM

When Justice Scalia passed away last Saturday, talk turned immediately to his potential replacements. And we mean immediately. Before the paper of record had even uploaded Justice Scalia's obituary, DC insiders were declaring that they would rush or block a replacement.

And if you've been following those discussions, you've probably heard one name over and over again: Sri Srinivasan. Srinivasan is a good and likely candidate, but he's hardly the only one. Here are seven more you should know.

1. Kamala Harris: Here on the West Coast, Harris is almost a household name, having worked her way through California's political machine for years, from deputy D.A. for Alameda County to California's Attorney General. Now she's running to replace Senator Barbara Boxer.

She's popular among Democrats, but her long history of liberal stances may make it hard to get through the Senate. And yes, she announced yesterday that she doesn't want to be considered, but we think a call from the President could probably change her mind pretty quickly.

2. Neal Katyal: A former Solicitor General, Katyal is no stranger to the High Court, where he has successfully defended the Voting Rights Act and Affordable Care Act. An Indian American, he's spent more time before the High Court than any other minority attorney besides Thurgood Marshall. As a Yale Law grad and former clerk to Justice Breyer, he'd blend right in on the Supreme Court. But, unlike most justices, he's never served as a judge before.

3. Merrick Garland: Chief Judge for the D.C. Circuit, this isn't the first time Garland's name has been floated for a Supreme Court seat. There's good reason, too. He has a long and successful career as a largely neutral jurist, with few controversial rulings and few decisions reversed by the Supreme Court. He's not politically polarizing and he graduated first in his class from Harvard Law. But, Garland is 63. He still has plenty of good years on him, but not as many as some other candidates.

4. Patricia Millett: Another D.C. Circuit judge, Millet has been through tough nomination battles before. Her appointment to the court of appeals took seven months to go through and she was confirmed by just an 18 vote margin -- and only after Democrats used the "nuclear option." Would Millet be worth another Senate battle? Possibly, as she's a widely respected judge with a career that some say makes her the most likely Scalia replacement. Plus, she'd be the first legal blogger to ever sit on the High Court, which is reason enough for us.

5. Jacqueline Nguyen: A Ninth Circuit judge, Nguyen would bring some much needed diversity to the Supreme Court -- as a Bruin. (She graduated from UCLA Law.) She's also a refugee, having fled the fall of Vietnam when she was 10 years old. Just 51 years young, she's spent almost 14 years as a judge, starting in Los Angeles Superior Court in 2002.

6. Jeh Johnson: A graduate of Morehouse College and Columbia Law School, Johnson might have an easier time getting approved by a Republican-controlled Senate due to his extensive military bona fides. After serving as an AUSA in the S.D.N.Y., Johnson became General Counsel for the Air Force under President Clinton, and went on to work as GC for the Defense Department under President Obama, before becoming Secretary of Homeland Security in 2013.

7. Paul Smith: The former co-chair of Lambda Legal's Board of Directors, Smith is one of the nation's preeminent gay-rights attorneys. Among the many cases he's argued in the Supreme Court is Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down laws criminalizing homosexuality. Smith has also been closely involved in recent gay rights victories, but he's not a single-issue lawyer. He's also made a name for himself successfully challenging political gerrymandering.

Bonus: Barack Obama. It's a strategy better suited for a Shonda Rimes drama than real life, but at least some scholars think that President Obama could nominate himself to the Supreme Court. We're sure Republicans would love it.

Got other suggestions for the Supreme Court? Let us know via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals).

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