January 3rd, 2008
11:52 AM ET
15 years ago

Supreme Court Justice Bill Clinton?

Would President Hillary name Bill to the Supreme Court?

Would President Hillary name Bill to the Supreme Court?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - It is a title that would be sure to bring either fear or cheer to many Americans, depending on your political leanings: Supreme Court Justice Bill Clinton.

That provocative possibility has long been whispered in legal and political circles ever since Sen. Hillary Clinton became a viable candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Now a respected conservative law professor has openly predicted a future President Clinton would name her husband to the high court if a vacancy occurred.

Pepperdine Law School's Douglas Kmiec said, "The former president would be intrigued by court service and many would cheer him on."

Kmiec worked in the Reagan and Bush 41 White Houses as a top lawyer, but said he has no personal or political "disdain" for Bill Clinton.

CNN talked with several political and legal analysts of both ideological stripes, and while several laughed at the possibility, none would rule it out completely. And all those who spoke did so on background only.

There is precedent for such a nomination: William Howard Taft, who called his time as chief justice, from 1921 to 1930, the most rewarding of his career. He was president from 1909 to 1913.

As one Democratic political analyst said, "You may recall recent trial balloons that Mr. Clinton was perhaps interested in becoming U.N. secretary-general. If he is grasping for a similarly large stage to fill his ambitions and ego, what better place than the nation's highest court, where could serve for life if he wanted?"

But a conservative lawyer who argues regularly before the high court noted Chief Justice John Roberts is fully entrenched in his position, and that might be the only high court spot Clinton would want. He also might not enjoy the relative self-imposed anonymity the justices rely on to do their jobs free of political and public pressures.

"Court arguments are not televised, and most justices shy away from publicity as a matter of respect for the court's integrity," said this lawyer. "Could Justice Clinton follow their example?"

Politics, however, may trump family ties. Perhaps three justices or more could retire in the next four to eight years, among them some of the more liberal members of the bench. The new president might face competing pressures to name a woman, a minority - especially a Hispanic or an Asian-American - and a younger judge or lawyer to fill any vacancies, three qualifications a white male in his 60s like Clinton would not have.

"This particular idea has zero chance of coming true," said Thomas Goldstein, a top appellate attorney who writes on his popular Web site, scotusblog.com.

The more immediate effect of such talk might be more practical: it could help motivate conservative voters in an election year to ensure no Clinton ever reaches the White House or the Supreme Court anytime soon.

- CNN's Bill Mears

Filed under: Bill Clinton
soundoff (535 Responses)
  1. Nazir Jamal

    Please hide Bill somewhere that he could not be heard or seen, it is very embarassing!

    January 8, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  2. Ryan, San Mateo

    CNN-Why are you letting all these negative comments about the Clintons be displayed? You are sounding like FOX

    January 8, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  3. Elizabeth

    Why, oh, why.....won't the media tell it like it is this morning.......
    Bill Clinton is lashing out for Hillary because if she loses, the chance for a dual presidency will be gone. He wants to again sit in prominence and authority in the White House. Who ever thought it would just be President Hillary Clinton.

    January 8, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  4. Robert

    It is just a political intrigue perpetuated by desperate conservatives to stop Madam
    Hillary from becoming the first female president of this great nation.

    January 9, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  5. Ralph Davidson

    It is just more garbage from the right

    February 5, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  6. Y. Parker

    No wonder God's fury (one catastrophy after another; vicious and devestating storms and floods and forest fires) has been lashed out upon us since the Clinton years! Legalized murder of our nations most innocent unborn, and the pushing for a constitutional amendment to legalize "Homosexual" marriages, both an abomination to God, and both on the Democrat Party's Agenda! I shudder to think what will happen under another four or eight years of the Clintons. As the scriptures say, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord (Jehovah)."

    February 7, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. PolitiPornster

    Hey, Y. Parker, did you ever stop to think that perhaps God's fury was unleashed as a result of electing Bush president? Sounds more plausable.

    From my reading of the Old Testament, back when God interacted with folks and didn't think so much about smiting folks, he pretty much smited the folks right then and there. So why didn't he smite Clinton in the 90's?

    February 12, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  8. SurRy

    "...as the only ones who read the Constituition properly and literally are the conservative justices ..."

    Do you mean the conservative activist Justices who thumbed their noses at stare decisis and declared corporations as people and opened our elections to foreign corporations? Is that what you are referring to?

    December 11, 2010 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  9. SurRy

    "This shows where the country is heading, a disbarred guy who lied under oath being the president is heading for judiciary now!"

    Heck, if a guy who was a failure at every business his daddy bought him, barely made it through college and grad school as an affirmative action student due to his daddy, dodged Viet Nam because his daddy got him into the TANG, and then went missing from the TANG, is an alcoholic, used cocaine, etc, could be appointed pResident by the US Supreme Court anything is possible!

    December 11, 2010 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
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