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. perry

    great idea.

    it's a great way to keep right wing pundits employed forever.

    January 3, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  2. joeb

    Didn't we form this country so that single families wouldn't hold control?
    (i.e. MONARCHIES)

    Lets see...
    4 years Bush
    8 Years Clinton (who was also impeached for being a LIAR)
    8 years Bush
    Do we really want to sign on for 8 more Clinton Years?
    What next? Jeb Bush??

    January 3, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  3. bob

    "I was under the impression that he was disbarred for lying to congress. A perjurer would not be a good choice for supreme court."

    technically he could, though its probably not a good idea, there are far, far better choices out there and its probably just hype, personally I still think all of this years cream of the crop is garbage for chooseing who is prez.

    January 3, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. Tom

    Given the very probable assumption that this story is fabricated, it is worth asking who a good SCt. nominee would be under a Democratic Presidency. In my opinion,.the best choice for a SCt. nominee would be Erwin Chemerinsky . . . finest Constitutional scholar in the land.


    January 3, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  5. Jeremy Lawrence

    As we all thought CNN has yet again shown it's true color, headlines without fact and what timing....

    January 3, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  6. Mario

    Don't worry, Bill won't be any judge for anything. Hitlery will lose the election, she married the bum, that is her own undoing. Sure we want a liar, an adultrier, a crook and ego in love fool that he is. I don't think so.

    Communist new network is covering this, so are the other media libreal lovers. So it isn't just CNN. Typical libs blaming someone for there misfortunes. Get a life libs.

    January 3, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  7. mike

    This is a ridiculous article. Full of what ifs and made out of one persons story time or fantasy. Really, what happened to the real CNN?

    January 3, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  8. andypetro

    That would seem unethical. I don't know if any law specifically bars appointment of relatives. I guess Kennedy appointed his brother AG, but I would air on the side of caution if I was Hillary and I would not appoint a family member to any position.

    January 3, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  9. scott

    This sounds like "cheap" propaganda coming out of the bleeding hearts at CNN.
    If there is any truth to this.....this is the final nail in the coffin for little miss Hillary.

    What next, little brat Chelse running the C.I.A. ??

    January 3, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  10. Nomad

    Answer – no, they truly have no shame!!! But even more shameful, we Americans keep electing them, KNOWING their true colors. It speaks to OUR society, OUR values. That's the shame of it all.

    January 3, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  11. Jeff - Jacksonville FL

    But seriously folks....this is just another "we want more hits on our website" ploy by CNN.

    I seriously doubt it would happen. It's probably something someone in this professors law class that some law student came up with on "What If" day.

    January 3, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  12. Sue, Michigan

    Doesn't this smell like a Karl Rove story? Sounds like another swift boating attempt to me! And what do you like a President Rudy might do-nominate his newest mistress as Sec. of State? Geez, you can float anything out there and people will jump on it. We are so gullible that instead of being outraged at the fascist shift in the White House, we
    worry about what Hillary may or may not do. Wake up people!

    January 3, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. Onthebeach

    Why not??? Washington is crowded with scoundrels of his ilk. One more or less won't make a big difference. After all, it's the corporate CEOs and their lobbiests running the country.

    January 3, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  14. Taylor

    Excuse me, CNN. How is this newsworthy?? You find some obscure legal authority making some idle speculations and you report it as fact? What is the point, here? This is baseless, tabloid journalism intended to throw people into huff. And,judging by the comments posted here, you've succeeded. You've now stepped down to MSNBC's level. Congratulations.

    January 3, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. John

    True or not. The very thought of Bill Clinton seating on our nation's highest court just boggles my mind. He has no moral fiber and represents the worst this country has to offer. Once we appoint men of no character to the court we open ourselves to the wrath of God.

    Very bad idea.

    January 3, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  16. DH Saginaw, MI

    Gee, the perfect reward for a man who perjured imself and lost his law license.

    January 3, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. Sean Tanner

    This is sheer speculation from a conservative professor that is designed to damage Hilllary's election chances. This has NO basis in fact. Get a grip people.

    January 3, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. Jeff - Jacksonville FL

    Jim Belvidere – Clinton the biggest joke of a President? Where have YOU been for the past 7 years?

    January 3, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  19. S. Traveller

    "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."

    OHHHHHHHH! Now I feel totally at ease with this guy. If he doesn't hate Bill Clinton, he must not have any kind of ulterior motive at all.

    This is trash. Come on CNN. Who was the editor that let this garbage float through? Speculation by a random law school professor warrants a front page link? Is this really the kind of thing that appears on a news ticker?

    January 3, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. David Birch

    I planned to vote for Obama but this tasteless rumor aimed at hurting Clinton has changed my mind. I will now vote for Hillary.

    Good job, Karl Rove!! BTW, why is CNN publishing this garbage?

    January 3, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. Bill, OHIO

    To all of you who always cry CNN is the 'Clinton News Network'...what do you say now? CNN has not done Hillary any favors by reporting this story. Feel pretty stupid now right? Good...because you truly are.

    January 3, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  22. Ben MacGowen

    It all starts with the Constitution. We all need to ask ourselves., "Do I agree with the intent of the founders in their construction of our political system and law?" and, "Am I allegiant to this country, the United States of America, would I die for this country?"

    As for me, the answer to both questions is yes. But, it is foremost on my mind that few, if not only one or two of the 2008 presidential candidates(of any affiliation), can HONESTLY answer an UNCONDITIONAL yes to either of these questions.

    The Democrat party strikes me as unashamedly against almost all of the responsibilities that the Constitution requires of the People. It also strikes me that many liberals that I know have real issues with private property ,free enterprise(capitalism) and authority(allegiance).

    Seeing as the court has become the LONE and final arbiter of American law and policy, it chills me to the bone, the idea of Bill Clinton wearing one of those robes.

    January 3, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. Lester Aponte

    Bill Clinton loves the spotlight too much to be a Supreme Court justice. I do agree this seems like a rumor designed to remind people of the Clinton-era scandals so as to hurt Hillary Clinton's chances. The comments posted here are an indication of the kind of reaction the rumor was designed to elicit. Let's get our facts right though. Bill Clinton was NOT disbarred and he was NOT impeached for lying to Congress. As for me, I have ecery intention of voting for Senator Clinton as she is the most qualified candidate and the one whose views are closest to my own. The Democratic Party has nominated a long line of unelectable men for the presidency, from Mc Govern to Kerry. It eas the Clintons who led us out of the wilderness and the Clinton administration looks better and better in retrospect.

    January 3, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  24. Alex, Washington DC

    A conservative law professor raising this possibility is a thinly veiled attempt at stirring up the red states and motivate the most conservative voters to hit the ballot boxes. Combining the Clintons and the Supreme Court into a single "doomsday scenario" is brilliant. Is there any way to add Ted Kennedy to the mix? 🙂

    January 3, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  25. B.M.Wedgeworth

    Mrs Hillary , When you go to apply for a job any where ,They ask do you have experience? So what s so hard to under stand , You Are Very qualified.
    And also I would like to see Mr. Oboma not bring out the racial Card.
    We are All Americans thats what matters. We need to better our America
    that what matters. Not color or gender.
    You have my vote since the being. I love shopping for specials and I get two for the price of one, You and Bill.
    So go Mrs.President.
    B.M.W San Antonio,Texas

    January 3, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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