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. Don Ingram


    January 4, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  2. GMAN

    I am curious how a lawyer who is banned from arguing cases before the Supreme Court could argue cases as a member of the Supreme Court. The thought of a law clerk under his robes during testimony, his face as red as a beet, the sweat pouring, is a bit troubling, too.

    January 4, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. kenopp

    crazy indeed. i don't think this would fly with the american people. Plus how would he get through congressional approval? the democrats have criticised Bush's cronyism and nepotism, i doubt if they'd choose that same path.

    January 4, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  4. Joey B. from Dallas

    It depends on what the meaning of the word "is", is....

    January 4, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  5. Zeke

    The US Constitution, says that an impeached president cannot serve in such an honorable position, or words to that effect. Impeached ex-president, pathological liar, rapists, and moester Bill Clinton's appointment to any Federal office would be unconstitutional! Any atempt, by Mrs Bill clinton, should she be elected president, would be met with a Supreme Court battle, and open Mrs. Bill Clinton up to impeachment. DemocRATS are crooks, liars and perverts!

    January 4, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  6. Robert

    LettingBill on the Supreme Court would really undermine the little common sense
    that some Democrats still have.I hope I never live that long. The U.S. is in enough
    trouble in having the laws of our great country enforced without having a liar on the high court.

    January 4, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. Joe, Lancaster, PA

    A disbarred lawyer on the U.S. Supreme Court? I am no longer surprised at anything that happens in Washington, D.C.

    January 4, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  8. bkeller

    My apologies to NE, It was Vic from TX,
    I won't even comment on your Korea comments as they are even more ludicrous.

    January 4, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  9. exoshell

    That's not cul

    January 4, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. dave

    If Bill Clinton gets nominated to the Supreme Court, we will have another vote for abortion on demand. He is not fit for this position. He has too much baggae to carry

    January 4, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  11. Bob

    Well the robes would be good for Bill. Perhaps he could be the "Father Ginger" of the Supreme Court.

    January 4, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  12. Roger Foust

    Can you imagine Bill Clinton with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court? We would be an extension of the United Nations and the European Union virtually overnight.

    These people are evil and extremely dangerous and should not hold ANY office, period.


    January 4, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  13. Dr. Billingsgate

    Does that mean that he could eventually rule that Oval Office air starts are legal? Or would he have to remove himself because of personal bias?

    January 4, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    O.K. by me . . . wait I don't need a pardon or a pass on insider trading. Costa Rica here I come!

    January 4, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  15. Julian

    Sure, why not? Wait a minute, wait a minute-I don't need a pardon or a pass on insider trading or a way to keep my launch vehicals from exploding . . . Costa Rica here I come!

    January 4, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  16. cjhunter

    Bill Clinton was disbarred. If that doesn't disqualify him from serving on the Supreme Court, it should.

    January 4, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  17. dg

    So now, CNN is now posting a link to this story (must be getting a lot of hits) on the main politics page, apart from all of the comments that point out the holes in this story.

    Hello, is there a CNN ombudsman? This whole story reeks of poor journalistic standards!!!

    January 5, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  18. dg

    Protest this useless story at


    January 5, 2008 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  19. Joe Stalin

    If you liked the way Bill lied in office for 8 years and in front of a prosecutor, just wail until he is a supreme court justice. His interpetations will be horrible at best as the only ones who read the Constituition properly and literally are the conservative justices as the liberals "invent" laws this way! I say abort all the liberal babies as I still have not found abortion in the constitution as it was manufactured to be politcally correct which is ruining this country along with "diversity and multiculturism"!!

    January 5, 2008 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  20. Al Bee Sterling Va

    It is possible for a Democrat president to nominate Bill Clintoon to the Supreme Court. After all, Democrats have little regard for anything else and look with disdain on the law abiding citizens.

    A liar, rapist, womanizer and an impeached president fits within the hand and glove of the Democrat party.

    Justice Taft is turning over and over, very rapidly, in his grave.

    January 5, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  21. wilson

    I was saddened to see this piece on CNN. I had thought CNN and Bill Mears were legitimate journalists, but to spread this obviously negative rumor, without a trace of support in anything Hilary or Bill has said, comes right from the book of Carl Rove.
    Shame on CNN!!

    January 5, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  22. Vic

    If Hillary becomes President she will "pardon" Bill and then appoint him to the Bench as a 'FULLY QUALIFIED' lawyer. As such he will "SERVE" until he dies, since he has the personality traits and ego to think that he can do anything he wants. ... Seems he has been correct in that assessment so far. Am quite amazed that there is so many comments.

    January 5, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  23. LMCurly

    People, the disbarment was only for five years. Clinton paid the fine and is now legal. Billary could possibly pull this off. I highly doubt it tho. Then again, who knows!

    January 5, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  24. Jess

    Any "respected conservative law professor" knows that there are few things that would terrify Republicans more than Bill Clinton's re-entrance into any public position of power. It sounds like Professor Kmiec is trying to play politics with scare tactics.

    January 5, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. madeline and jim

    We have had enough of the Clintons. Let's hope we don't have another President Clinton elected in 2008.

    January 5, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
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