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. Jackson

    Who did you think slipped Chief Justice Roberts the mickey this last summer which threw him into a seizure which condition President Clinton II will use to unseat him and put Bubba in charge. Get ready for Chelsea as her running mate for VP, I just love a constitutional monarchy. Welcome to the new America!

    January 3, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  2. Michelle, Bullhead City, AZ

    OMG! I don't want the Clintons holding any government positions!
    Vote Ron Paul!

    January 3, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  3. lyn

    Great, that's what we need another Republican on the Court!

    January 3, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  4. lyn

    If the voters are that stupid to vote for Hillary, after they, "with one you get two", pushed NAFTA , GATT and most favored nation treaty with Communist China, they deserve Bill on the Supreme Court.
    They sold us out to China And China payed them back with a guy named Chu, who is now in jail, but they will pardon him, if re-elected.

    January 3, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  5. Harvey, Lancaster

    why don't the new yorkers pick him, when hilly wins the white house, to serve out the remaining 4 years of her senate term.
    hilly and billy. what a pair.
    do the commenters think that a republican or democrat in the white house makes a difference?
    face it, we lost our country to the wealthy years ago.
    no law is passed without their ok.
    the 2 party system is corrupt. all other parties are blocked by regulations and exclusionary rules to run candidates for office of which the menshevik and bolsheviks in d.c. don't have to adhere to.
    the american political circus is like the same the same 2 teams playing the super bowl every 2 years. what real difference does it make. each will win some of the games. you and i lose.
    Lancaster, Taxifornia

    January 3, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  6. Leon Pollock

    If this happens this country is doomed !!

    January 3, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  7. Neo

    I can see it now .. Bill Clinton in Judiciary Committee hearings.
    Being asked all those questions that were unanswered 10 years ago at the Senate trial after his impeachment. It will make Bork's hearings seem like a cakewalk.

    Please .. please .. somebody nominate him for the SCOTUS.

    January 3, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  8. Allen

    Mr. Bill on the Court.... how poetic... thief (furniture from the Whitehouse) can't tell the truth ( I didn't have sex with that women) and what a great appointment Mr. Bill gave us.... Ruth, who didn't ever sit as a judge anywhere... but SHE was qualified????????
    Leave it up to the Clinton News Network (CNN) to slant everything to a positive for her.
    Is there a spot on the ballot for...NONE OF THE ABOVE!

    January 3, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  9. Robert

    If Hillary or any other demo(rat) wins the white house and the Senate and House remain under demorat control, I promise you all that this will be the last election we ever have in the United States of America!! I promise you the demo(rats) will see to that!!! It just goes to show you all what happens when people are no longer educated so that they can think for themselves. They end up being brainwashed by the left wing media, socialist professors, and the politically correct idiots. I for one am proud to call myself a free thinking American!!! I will not run to Canada!!!

    January 3, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  10. Bobby

    Has anyone taken a civics class? We definitely need more money for education.

    1. Billy was impeached not because he cheated on his wife, not because he received sexual favors in the white house but because he lied to a grand jury - related to committing perjury in court for a SEXUAL HARRASSMENT lawsuit. (Women – stand up for yourselves!). Many people have gone to jail for lying to a grand jury (can you say Martha?) so Bill got off easy.

    2. ANYONE can be nominated for a Supreme Court Justice no matter what their qualifications may or may not be.

    3. The President does not run the country. We have a House of Representatives and a Senate as well as a Judicial system - checks and balances remember? No matter how you slice it; Congress knew it was voting to give Bush the power to go to war. And this is Bush's war? Please. The President ruined the country? Take a close look at your congressman people!


    5. CNN and any other new agency can print anything it wants. It does not ALL have to be news; it can be opinion as well. Which leads me to FREEDOM OF SPEECH!

    Oh, this election year will be fun! Go Hillary! You IS what makes this country great!

    January 3, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  11. Dr. Tom Haggerty


    January 4, 2008 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  12. Bird Dawg

    YGTBS Me! Impeached, Perjury, lost his license to PRACTICE LAW! Philanderer Extrodinairre! Need I say more? Oh Yeah, Chelsea will be Secretary of State and Roger Clinton will be Secretary of Agriculture, (have to make sure we have a bumper crop of WEED).

    January 4, 2008 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  13. WG

    all I can say is: BILL AND HILL MAKE ME ILL.

    January 4, 2008 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  14. jerry

    there isn't enough trim floating around the supreme court building to interest bill in the job

    January 4, 2008 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  15. aamir

    bill clinton was the greatest president ever and if he will be the SC judge, the SC must be proud. despite all the scandal, he is great

    January 4, 2008 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  16. Bud

    Bill would never be a Supreme Court Justice. Too many are afraid of what he may make out of it. Plus not to say, he is the biggest thief, liar, and crook that has ever stepped foot in the White House. I amazes me every day that he nor Hillary never served time for any of the stuff they puled over the years as governor or president.

    January 4, 2008 02:22 am at 2:22 am |
  17. Bob

    Sorry folks such wouldn't fly! Kind of hard for Bill to be the President in the back room for Hillary, to always ask him what to do, and be on the court at the same time. Being a President is a full time job and Hillary alone in the White House the chair of decision making would be empty.

    January 4, 2008 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  18. Peter K. Connolly

    Are you all out of your f____ing minds?

    January 4, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  19. Really Robin

    OMG!! Did "stopwatchingfoxnews" really just accuse CNN of running a story to kill a Democrats chance of election?

    Hey, stopwatching – you may need to stop watching new all together if you're gonna see a conspiracy with every report you don't agree with!!

    Good thing you're a liberal – you wouldn't have the heart to be a conservative!!

    January 4, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  20. Rufus

    According federal nepotism laws, the President cannot appoint family members to these type positions. Is CNN simply creating hype?

    January 4, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  21. B Hogan

    Hopefully, NOT another return to 9 years of embarrassment, corruption, distrust of government, etc....

    January 4, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  22. Dennis

    I doubt if it's a scare tactic.
    It's what can happen if the Libs have their way.
    People when are you going to wake up.
    Bill Clinton was the biggest abuser of the most powerful office
    in the world.
    And this goes to show you just how these people can abuse their powers.
    Anyone remotely thinking that this clan has anything but their best interest in mind
    is in need of immediate medication.
    Liberalism is a Mental Disorder

    January 4, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  23. pat


    January 4, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  24. John K

    Do you seriously think a disbarred and convicted perjurer could be confirmed to SCOTUS?

    January 4, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  25. PolitiPornster

    Dennis – the guy in the White House now isn't abusing his office or the trust instilled in him by the People? As I remember it, when Clinton lied nobody died. Can you say that about Bush? The lib-bashing and conservative bashing on this page is exactly what folks have grown tired of and I think last night's victories by Huckabee & Obama prove that. People want a change from the tired old Rush Limbaugh gotcha style of politics. Face it Dennis, the rest of America is passing you by have fun reading about the old style of politics.

    January 4, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22