Skip to main content

Are you a legal professional? Visit our professional site

Search for legal issues
For help near (city, ZIP code or county)
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location

President Obama, SCOTUS Blogger, Discusses Potential Court Pick

Article Placeholder Image
By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on February 24, 2016 10:09 AM

Well, here's a first. President Obama has taken a step up in the world and become a Supreme Court blogger. Welcome to the club, Mr. President!

Facing increased Republican opposition to a speedy (or any kind, really) Scalia replacement, the president took to the pages of SCOTUSblog this morning, explaining his commitment to appointing a new justice and giving us a glance into just what he's looking for in the next member of the Supreme Court.

Get Your Resumes Ready

President Obama's "guest post" on SCOTUSblog offered him a chance to "share some spoiler-free insights into what I think about before appointing the person who will be our next Supreme Court Justice." There are three main qualifications the president needs in a Supreme Court nominee, so keep these in mind as you're updating your resume and prepping your cover letters:

A sterling record. A deep respect for the judiciary's role. An understanding of the way the world really works. That's what I'm considering as I fulfill my constitutional duty to appoint a judge to our highest court.

Of course, that's just the summary. Your sterling record should be paired with "an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials, and a record of excellence and integrity."

Respect for the judiciary's role should demonstrated by "a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand."

Finally, if you understand how "the world really works" -- that's a dad phrase, if ever there was, and a pretty direct shot at strict constructionalists -- you'll have experience outside the classroom and courtrooms and know law is not just an intellectual exercise, but an important part of "the daily reality of people's lives in a big, complicated democracy."

So, Who's Off the List?

Last week, we previewed seven potential Supreme Court justices who aren't Sri Srinivasan. Some of them, it seems, could be out of the running. Not because they lack real experience or strong records, but because they've spent little time as a judge.

Yes, some time on the bench is a likely a major bonus, the president's blog seems to indicate, perhaps not surprisingly. That could hurt potential Supreme Court contenders like Kamala Harris, Neal Katyal, Jeh Johnson, Paul Smith, and yes, Sri Srinivasan, all of whom have extensive legal experience but have never served as a judge.

That may make it a bit harder to prove that they, as the president puts it, "approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand."

A little time on the bench can also make the vetting process much easier. As Justice Alito noted in comments at Georgetown on Monday, "Given the way the interviews with senators occur beginning immediately on the announcement of the nomination, it's very difficult for somebody who has not been dealing with the whole breadth of federal law that may come before the Supreme Court to be ready for those interviews."

For an already contentious nomination, those skills could be quite helpful.

Then again, lack of judicial experience didn't stop Elena Kagan, Earl Warren, Louis Brandeis, John Marshall, or dozens of other eventual justices from reaching the Court.

President Obama (and I'm sure you're reading) we invite you to explain things further right here on FindLaw's U.S. Supreme Court Blog, whenever you desire. Just give us a call.

Related Resources:

Find a Lawyer

More Options