May 3rd, 2009
04:43 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama likely to pick female nominee?

WASHINGTON (CNN) – In the very early stages of the selection process to replace Justice David Souter, Obama administration officials say there is a strong inclination to pick a woman, but stress there is no short list and the field of candidates is wide open.

The officials acknowledge the likelihood of a female pick stems in part from the fact that former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was not replaced by a woman so there is now just one female on the high court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, out of nine justices.

Rachel Brand, a veteran of the former Bush administration's Supreme Court selection process, said the general perception in legal circles is that Obama will nominate a woman for that reason.

"Or there is a strong expectation he will nominate a woman partly because Justice O'Connor was not replaced by a woman," said Brand. "That's not to say that he has to or even that he should nominate a woman. It's just what the political imperative seems to be right now."

Administration officials do not disagree with that perception, but stress that Obama is going to use overall qualifications for the job as the guiding principle – regardless of gender or race. That could mean winding up with a well-qualified man, similar to former President George W. Bush's selection of a Chief Justice.

"He's going to go with excellence, not unlike the previous President going with John Roberts," noted one Obama administration official.

Brand said the possibility of multiple Supreme Court retirements over the next few years could give Obama some flexibility in his first nomination.

"He may nominate a woman for this one and then the next time he may be freer to nominate whomever he wants, or he may decide that he should go with whoever the best candidate is irrespective of gender," said Brand. "But certainly the conventional wisdom is he will go with a woman.


Filed under: Supreme Court
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. William

    Let's hope that President Obama selects a nominee for the Court based on his/her qualifications as a jurist and not the nature of his/her genitals.

    May 3, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  2. Blue in Maine

    I hired President Obama to make this type of decision. I have absolute confidence in his ability and willingness to appoint a fair minded justice who will consider the Constitution when making his or her rulings. The fact that those qualifications would put him or her in the minority is a national shame which I hope will be corrected by a long string of responsible Administrations.

    May 3, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. TheThinker

    Well, there's a lot of buzz about Sonia Sotomaior, but I think Seth Waxman or Elena Kagan would also be qualified.

    May 3, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  4. pick the best

    try to find a minority, but if there are none that are the best, than pick the best, but explain your thoughts

    May 3, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  5. MIKE FROM TEXAS

    No he needs to pick a woman...There should actually be more women on the Supreme Court

    May 3, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  6. reggie

    Seems a bit unfair that other qualified individuals will not even be considered unless they are female and minorities. Obama just cannot get anything right.

    May 3, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  7. Lynn

    Why don't you all wait until the president announces his nominee. Everyone throwing out their ridiculous comments and speculations and beginning their character assassinations before the person has been named!!

    May 3, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Bethie in TX

    Obama should try his best to pick a female because there are a number of qualified women judges out there, and there is only one on the Supreme Court right now. That's just not right. In this case, gender should be one consideration. Acting like it shouldn't be is sticking your head in the sand.

    May 3, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. Peter (CA)

    Pick a woman if it is about making sure that their voice is heard; the important thing is to pick someone good.

    The last thing we need is another Clarence Thomas style pick to satisfy a particular group.

    May 3, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  10. Yonas

    Hispanic women would be the right choice.

    May 3, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  11. ken

    What is wrong with Democrats. They say they favor equality yet when it comes to picking someone for a job they favor race and gender over the ability to do a job. Why would you limit your search of a Supreme Court Justice to only 50% of the population. Pick the best person for the job regardless of color or gender.

    May 3, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  12. German,Irish,American

    Obama will pick whoever his puppet master orders him to pick.

    May 3, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  13. Denver Mom

    As a woman I could care less if the new nominee is a woman or not. The best qualified person should get the position, not the person with the right gender/race.

    May 3, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  14. gary davis

    I personnally don't have a preferance to whom the president pickes

    just as long as he stays focased on the issues that we and his administration believes in
    so i could be a man or a woman

    and if a few more retire then keep picking people that will get our constitution back on track instead of setting the adgenda that big money corps want to see . some people wrote many years ago
    ( for the people and by the people. so help me GOD !!!!! :)

    May 3, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  15. Bill ~ Down on the Bayou

    Qualifications will not matter in the choice. He will find a mixed breed black woman, one on weflare if he can find one.

    May 3, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  16. Deb

    It would be perfect it SHE wear a lesbian with children in a committed relationship and wanting to marry her significant other as many other GLBT's around the country want .......... There have been enough HETRO WHITE MALES on our SUPREME COURT ... It should be a reflection of our nation ...........

    May 3, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  17. Brad/San Diego

    I have all the confidence that the PRESIDENT OBAMA will make the right decision who will be the next on next court.

    May 3, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  18. DP

    This will be a real test for Obama. We have too many activist courts with judges who think they can legislate from the bench. The courts sole duty is to uphold the Constitution and laws as they were written. I have full confidence that Obama will get this one right.

    May 3, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  19. mary

    All Obama's SC nominees should be women, until we get to four or five women on the court–parity.

    We need parity throughout government for government to represent all the people. Plus, in the legal community, there have been more women than men graduating from law school for years. Unlike 25 years ago when Reagan nominated O'Connor, and had to search hard for a qualified woman, there are many, many qualified women now. I don't expect Obama to do so, but in fairness, he should appoint women for every appointment to the SC, until we get to parity-of course, the women can and should also be minorities, to bring more minority representation to court.

    May 3, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  20. Dimples

    Let me be clear: President Obama will make the best decision and if that nominee happens to be an African American woman – so be it!

    May 3, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  21. patrick norman

    please add to your talks on minority picks for the supreme court an american indian nominee

    May 3, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  22. D. D.

    Our President probably already know the three people whom he will recommend with each resignation.
    I think our Judge Ginsberg won't be alone if she stays. I so moss Justice Sandra Day O Connor. Can she return to the high courtt"
    If so let her go back and serve, Justice O'Connor deserves to be seated again.

    May 3, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  23. mb-texas

    Wow.Slow down take a deep breath. No nominee yet and everyone
    is screaming from the mountain top about what and how they are
    going to react.What if the President nominate a person that no one
    can gripe about.

    May 3, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  24. Mike

    I plan on switching my party to Democrat so I can vote for Sestak over this idiot Specter.

    May 3, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  25. Nancy Jones

    Based on his record, you can bet your booties she will have to pass the litmus test to be pro-choice.

    May 3, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
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