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. Steve

    Just what America needs is the possible scenario of the Clintons helping run two branches of government. Bill, your done, go back to pimping yourself on the speaking engagments and leave running the government to new blood. This is part of the problem with a Hillary win. Excess baggage. I expect if she wins in the primaries, with her recent gaffs and lack of real compassion skills she will get torn to shreads by Republicans and the voters in the general election.

    January 3, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  2. Pher

    Bill would be great, Not a partisan moron like Thomas or a complete loon like Scalia.

    January 3, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  3. Rick Cline

    Maybe we can get what the word "If" means ,when he writes some of his legal decisions. Can't wait, it just shows how out of reach the Washington Set is from both Parties.Neither Party cares about the people of this country! We need a new political party!!!!!!!!

    January 3, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. harry thomas

    Ron Paul 2008

    Let Freedom Ring !!!!!

    January 3, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  5. Michael A.

    Let's assess the options.

    1. Appointment to the Supreme Court.
    2. Appointed by Governor Spitzer (Dem. NY) to complete the term of Hilary Clinton.
    3. Hang with George H.R. Bush conducting humanitarian efforts.
    4. None of the above.

    Number three is out. One is appealing by itself, but when compared to the prestige and influence of a U. S. Senator, it's no contest.

    Paraphrasing what Kevin Klein's character, Luc Teyssier, said in 'French Kiss', "Poor Bill – tough decision!"

    I hope it becomes #4 – none of the above. That means Hilary is not President in 2009.

    January 3, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  6. Saundra Ashley

    Oh Boy! Aren't you all just falling for a Republican attempt make political noise and try to influence voters? You all seem to be overlooking that Bush has more "events" that should be questioned, like lies about the Iraq war, and getting so many of our soldiers and Marines KIA or wounded or attacking our personal rights and ignoring the Constitution. Bush has done far worse things that have hurt this country. I smell a bunch of rats on this one, Rove Cheny, Dobson oh yes, my personal favorite Ken Starr

    Oh yes, shame on you CNN for even giving a hint of respectibility to this story.

    January 3, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  7. Rowe

    Why do conservatives think that Hillary is the only one who might appoint Bill to the Supreme Court? Couldn't the same be said of Edwards, or Obaman, or Richardson...?

    I agree with the other posters: Planted story, designed to rile up the conservatives at the thought of TWO Clintons in positions of power. CNN should have known better than to print this crap.

    January 3, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  8. Sarah, Kansas City, MO

    Right, sure does smell like Rove or someone of his ilk. You would think that the republican slime machine would realize that we are getting hip to their trip.

    Would someone please explain why it is so deplorable to lie about an affair but it is not deplorable to lie about WMB and get us into a war that has taken nearly 4,000 Americans (and untold civilian lives)?

    The Clinton haters are so hung-up about sex when it comes to the other side but amongest their own they ignore it. What about Clarence Thomas? What a slime ball there and he's serving on the supreme court.

    January 3, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  9. james

    Wow, I just got back from south east Asia, and am glad to see the US is catching up with third world countries when it comes to corruption and nepotism.

    If the Clintons return, god help america.

    – from an Anti-DLC democrat

    January 3, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  10. DJ, new york, ny

    this is another page from the republican playbook – spreading rumour as many gullible people beleive that is true. What a shame.

    January 3, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  11. bob

    as a black american i would welcome the first black president as a justice,i think he would be great ,hmm maybe he could teach thomas a thing or two about black history

    January 3, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  12. To FOX and CNN bashers

    It is facinating how many people refer to Fox News as bias (and often CNN as bias). What's real funny is that the ones who seem to strongly oppose them, know all about them. Apparently you must be watching Fox and CNN to be such experts about what they are reporting.

    Both media outlets have tons of veiwers (especially Fox). Wake up! You are part of the viewing club, so don't complain!

    I was an editor in several newsrooms for almost two decades and they ALL have their biases. Hello!

    The reason for this is that no matter how we all try to be the fly-on-the-wall or fair and balance, we all have beliefs and passions and they do often get reflected in what we do, no matter what anyone says. People aren't perfect and consequently there is no perfect newspaper or network. So please realize that and know that you there are good people in all of these places and you must always evaluate anything you read or hear. That's life.

    Imagine for a minute that you were a newsperson (with all the liberal or conservative passion that you have).

    Note to viewers and readers: There is no media void of bias.

    Former newsperson

    January 3, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  13. Bill

    And Huckabee could appoint Adolph Hitler Secretary of State.
    Stick to facts and news on election day.

    January 3, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  14. Butch Rafferty

    This is a man who doesn't know the meaning of "the law" anymore than he knows the meaning of the word "is". What a dunderheaded notion.

    January 3, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  15. Joe

    In his present life, Bill Clinton, respected and admired world wide, continues his magnificent achievements as president by now directing the Clinton Trust he founded, which is saving tens of thousands of lives in third world nations. He has also raised billions for other worthy causes. Only a fool would propose that this brilliant man, this national asset, this world treasure, would waste his time talking to losers like Clarence Thomas.

    January 3, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  16. Brad Willis

    Alan...actually, Bill Clinton WAS successfully impeached, however he was NOT removed from office. I want to add that I always was and still am a great admirer of President Clinton. The impeachment of President Clinton was a shameful and ridiculous bit of partisanship designed by Republican leadership to curb the power of a popular Democratic U.S. President. over a matter that was entirely private and had nothing to do with his job performance.

    January 3, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  17. frank3108

    There is no way this ego maniac could share the stage with 8 other justices. He couldn't keep his mouth shut or stay out of the spotlight. However, the Secretary General of the UN job would be just what he is looking for and I've thought that's just what he'd go for only after his wife gets elected. If that happens you can kiss America goodby because these two traitors would sell us down the river in a heartbeat. They should both be in Pelican Bay for treason for selling our military technology to China.

    January 3, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  18. dc

    No, Clinton did not lie in front of congress. The only illegal thing the guy did was immaterial perjury in a civil law suit – something most people are not even prosecuted for.

    January 3, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  19. David Friedman

    President William Jefferson Clinton would add immeasurably to this biased court.
    He would hopefully add some stimulus to Clarence (fly on the can) Tomas who seems either disinterested or just plain dumb. Unfortunately, affirmative action occurred too late for pervert Tomas to learn how to think. Last, the pathetic neocon supporters of the failed preemption "doctrine" of genocide george would have twice as much to cavetch about- President Hillary Clinton and Chief Justice William Jefferson Clinton...

    January 3, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  20. terry

    i think hillary and bill will divorce...finally....when she loses her strive for the whitehouse. that's exactly what will happen....

    January 3, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  21. Walt, Belton, TX

    I still think castration would have been more appropriate than being disbarred.

    January 3, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  22. Mark

    How amazingly irresponsible of CNN to report this as NEWS. This is nothing more than one person's OPINION. I find it dis-heartening that the press has lost their perspective. Maybe CNN should just come out of the closet, be forthright about your support of Clinton. I'm a registered Democrat, and will not vote for Hillary. Her "husband" disputes the definition of the word "the". How low can one stoop???

    January 3, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  23. Foxxwolff, Lisle

    That's it! I've had it! I'm retired after working for years in a law firm and there is no way in this world/universe I would ever vote for a lawyer. Justice Clinton? Give me a break. Hey, all you phychologist out there – how about your comments. How about one of you running for Commander-In-Chief?

    January 3, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  24. nick

    Is there anything more upsetting in all of TV or Radio than having to listen to Wolf Blitzer say over and over, "you're in the situation room". Sorry if this is the wrong spot to post this, but it was the easiest and needed to be said.


    January 3, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  25. Matt Miller

    How can a lawyer who has been disbarred be appointed to the supreme Court?

    January 3, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
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