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. julie

    Disbarred form the Supreme Court means you are not allowed to present to the Court. Does not mean you can not be on the Court itself.

    January 3, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  2. julie

    Bring it on!!

    January 3, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  3. Art, San Francisco, CA

    It's hysterically funny – all you Clinton haters. The ONLY thing you can say about Bill is that he received oral sex in the Oval Office and then lied about it.


    Your glory boy Bush was so incompetent he let the country be attacked numerous times, went to war with the WRONG country and had to lie and forge documents to do so, spent untold billions of dollars doing so and managed to kill more Americans than the original 9/11 attacks did (not to mention the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi women and children).

    No WONDER you sad pathetic losers will no longer have a say in the country's future.

    January 3, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  4. Helen

    It's fearmongering, right-winger style. Amusing that CNN would reproduce it here; as if they had not done enough already in calling the 2000 election. This is not a story, it's a polarizing blogospheric speculation, and it should be beneath the notice of any news service.

    January 3, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  5. CHARLIE Toon


    January 3, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  6. Alice, VA

    Oh yeah...let's release this dirtbag on the clerks in the Supreme Court.

    January 3, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. eliz

    OMG....the man was impeached...lied under oath....I don't even need to mention what he didn't do for our country as president.... To even consider a person who lied under oath for a Supreme Court Justice position is shocking. But then again, its the Clintons. They are above the law.

    January 3, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. Ravensun

    OK, folks: GET A CLUE!

    The Senate must approve ALL Supreme Court nominations.

    Bill Clinton as a nominee would not get past the Senate.

    The White House can nominate Mickey Mouse if they want; it's the Senate who has the final say, and any Senator STUPID enough to vote yes for Slick Willie needs to have his head examined, so...

    Scream, rant, rave... it's the same stupidity that says "Impeach Bush and Cheney" – impeachment by itself means NOTHING. It's a slap on the wrist. It takes a 2/3rds majority in the Senate to remove an impeached official from office, as we SHOULD remember from Clinton's impeachment hearings.

    And it takes a majority in the Senate to put someone on the Supreme Court.

    Our Senators may be politicians, but I find it nearly impossible to believe they're ALL that stupid.

    January 3, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  9. Michelle

    Vic, with all of your reasons listed for: "Bill Clinton, the undisputed fact is that he is respected by all world leaders as well as with people domestically. " We still have laws and checks and balances and qualifications for our Supreme Court Justices. It's not about respect or popularity or even accomplishments, it's basic enforcement of our already written Constitution and laws, that really is the subject at hand. Thanks, though.

    January 3, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    nepotism law–scoffed at by both parties

    January 3, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  11. jlo

    Bill wasn't disbarred – he was impeached as president!

    January 3, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  12. Michelle

    I think Clinton would be a great addition to the Supreme Court. As most know (but refuse to acknowledge), Bill did NOT commit perjury. As a lawyer (and former Attorney General of Arkansas)...

    John, as a former lawyer you know that it doesn't matter what WE think happened through our understanding of news coverage, what matters is the conviction and that's what stands. Your former governor appreciates your loyalty and support, but that's the record and the result and what history ultimately works with – including qualifications to serve as Cheif Justice. Fun to consider at this stage of the game – enjoy the fireworks.

    January 3, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  13. Tim, NV

    this is absolutely laughable. all the more reason not to vote for her. I've already switched to Obama since some of her latest gaffes.

    January 3, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  14. NextMogul

    Bill Clinton is the most beloved man in the world, followed by the POPE! He is great and no one can deny it.

    January 3, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  15. Rich In Seattle

    Let's see, who is this guy who is making this prediction?

    "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."

    So this isn't a right wing attack on Caucus day because this guy said he has no disdain for Clinton. Riiiiiiigggggghhhhhhtttttttttt......

    January 3, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  16. Les

    Reading all the postings, it tells me ONE thing, OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IS FAILING.

    Even reporters of CNN lacks an analytical mind, maybe due to the fact their readers prefer to be feed with info no matter how ridiculous it is instead of LEARNING.

    Presumptions and predictions become facts all of a sudden. Stop wondering why this country is going down the drain, the morons outnumber sensible Americans.

    January 3, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  17. Ru B., NH

    This guy commits PERJURY, the highest crime against the Judicial System, and was disbarred fur such behavior unbecoming an officer of the Court, and there are STILL people who think this guy should have ANY opportunity or influence in any way in a judicial system he dishonored?

    All I know is that if you or I did what he did, we'd be serving a prison sentence and probably mouring the loss of all that mattered to us.

    January 3, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  18. Roger

    A baseless rumor, planted at the last minute by anti-Clinton activists and promoted by CNN. And with one of Ken "I'll spend every penny you give me" Starr's buddies commenting! CNN looks silly, at best, peddling this stuff. Get professional!

    January 3, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  19. Trang, Fremont, CA

    Well, I like Bill.

    However, when he puts that hand on the book and swear to tell the truth, look at me straight in the eyes and lied to me, he has no credilbility left. Same thing w/ Bush – he has no credibility left. Same thing w/ Hillary if she is elected. I want someone in the White House to speak the truth to the American people for a change. Overall, I think he did a good job for the country – but for the Supreme Court – I don't think it's a good idea. I think it's better for him to travel around the world creating good will than be in a supreme court. Let someone who shows more respect for the Constitution for that post.

    January 3, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  20. Bill , NH

    No one has ever accused the Clintons of being dumb. They know that most of this country is full of a bunch of gullible losers whom they can sell any piece of horsedung story to to get elected. Neither one of them has any personal integrity though. Only a cowardly weasel would've lied or attempted to dodge the truth during the investigation. He should've just told them the truth and said "so I did it, so what, go to hell" At least he would've been honest about it. But like any gutless yellow belly he's gotta run and hide and can't take responsibility for his actions. I wouldn't cross the street to spit on either one of them.

    January 3, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  21. ABC

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

    January 3, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  22. Doug

    He's a liar, anti-American, and utterly without shame. Obviously, he should be the UN Secretary General.

    January 3, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  23. David Birch


    Your whispers are quite good! I have some more, and I will focus on Hillary, just to highlight how the media has been unfairly targeting her!

    Hillary will appoint Chelsea as secretary of the state. She will require that Americans deposit 10% of their income into her personal account each month. She will force all men to walk naked....

    I admit these are bizarre but perahps no more bizarre than the crap put out by CNN.

    January 3, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  24. Ryan Indianapolis

    Are you serious .......You think America would be comfortable with one of the most dishonest presidents of all-time filling a Supreme Court role.....Americans are just plain dumb and democrats are just dillusional.

    January 3, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  25. Dolores Sanchez

    This is an article timely aimed to discourage people to vote for Hillary, the most qualified candidate for president of the USA. But after 8 years of the dumbest ass ever produced in this country, it is refreshing to hope for an intellegent person to lead us.

    January 3, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22