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. Harry, NY NY

    Wow. This might seal her loss in Iowa.

    January 3, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. xtina chicago IL

    Wasn't BiIl Clinton disbarred ? Why would anyone think a lawyer who has been disbarred be a good choice for Supreme Court Justice?

    January 3, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  3. Dave, Atlanta, GA

    Can you nominate someone who has been disbarred to the supreme court?

    January 3, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  4. john

    wow, I smell a rat already!

    January 3, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  5. richard

    Does this mean something to us. If these elections get rigged I am moving to canada!

    January 3, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  6. Stopwatchingfoxnews, Rochester, NY

    The only reason this story is out right now is a last ditch effort to sway voters not to vote for Hillary. CNN.com has lost all credibility. You might as well call this website, TMZ.com.

    Hillary or any Dem in 08!

    January 3, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  7. Wayne, Greenville TX

    If it happens, Bill Clinton would have the last laugh on Ken Starr....

    January 3, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  8. D J Ladoceour

    Yes, yes. Bill Clinton for the Supreme Court.

    January 3, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  9. Bob

    wow, this is frightening stuff! This has started to rise my blood temp. Is this a hint to something wrong waiting to happen? 'ope not!

    January 3, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  10. Brew City Legend

    Please... Didn't Bill LIE in front of congress?

    "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." -Bill Clinton

    Small lie or not, I would not want a main who could have been charged with federal perjury and was nearly completely impeached out of office a decade ago to be in th supreme court someday.

    Hillary is a true politician. She knew back then that if she ever wanted to run for office, she would have to stay with Bill to use his name and political power. That's my guess as to why she didn't leave him after so many sex-scandals in his days in the White House and before. She is nothing, and could never do it all by herself.

    I hope she gets canned in these primaries and caucuses.

    January 3, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  11. Yolanda Brown, South Caolina

    why not
    hey democrats sure way to get back the supreme court that is in jeopardy by the right wing conservatives.
    hey democats more the reason to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton as she can win the general election.

    January 3, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  12. harron

    I hope people's efforts are not going to be turned in a mighty suprime court fight if that is what CNN is telling us here. It isn't just right!

    January 3, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  13. kiera

    I cannot believe this was even posted, it smacks of a Rove instigated whisper campaign meant to scare conservatives back into towing the republican line. This is not news, this is rumor and speculation and had no business here.

    January 3, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  14. Greg G

    This is just another conservative trying to scare voters about Hillary. "Oooh - don't vote for Hillary or Bill will be on the Supreme Court." Well, maybe, and maybe that wouldn't be a bad thing - but the motivation here is clear: another Republican fear tactic.

    January 3, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  15. D. Murphy

    I could think of no better legacy for Hillary than to appoint a man impeached from the White House for immorality and lying to the American people ("I did not have sexual relations with that woman") to be appointed a Supreme Court justice.

    January 3, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  16. Joe

    Didn't Bill turn in his law license in connection with the scandals of his administration? I can't imagine anyone trying to nominate a disbarred lawyer to the Supreme Court.

    January 3, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  17. Larry

    Great, that's all we need – A Clinton in a govt. office without term limits. But didn't he get disbarred? But its good to know that Hillary will never win the election.

    January 3, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  18. oswegosnowbound

    If it were to happen, it would be the "In Your Face!" of the century. After having his law license suspended to practice in front of the Supreme Court, Bill gets a seat on it.

    How very pathetic if this were to play out. Sorry folks, but if Mrs. Clinton wins we'll have one of their faces plastered on the tv sets for years to come. You get what you vote for.

    January 3, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  19. gr

    Pepperdine? Hmm isn't that were Ken Starr teaches?

    January 3, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  20. John R

    Is this not the same man that lied to a Grand Jury to cover his Butt? Is this not the same man that gave a pardon to one of the most notorious scam artists in existence? Is this not the same man that lied to the American people on National TV? Is this not the same man that was a disaster as President?
    Please.... Bill should be in jail, not on the bench.

    January 3, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  21. Judge Learned Hand

    As an attorney, am I the only one bothered that they would even consider a disbarred attorney for the Supreme Court? What's next...Brittany Spears as the head of Children Services?

    January 3, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  22. TK

    If this happens I give up. This guy was effectively impeched for White Water and lyiing to a federal grand jury. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court???? He should be disbarred, not rewarded. Talk about hypocrisy.

    January 3, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  23. Ryan, New Jersey

    Hahahahahahaha, is this for real?

    January 3, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  24. Jonathan Huggins

    Yeah, that's just what we need. A disbarred lawyer in control of the law who married a woman who became President after failing the bar exam in her first attempt. Stupid is as stupid does.

    January 3, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  25. Robert Haas, Kansas City, Mp

    Rather than facts, you print suppositions. Is this fair?

    January 3, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
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