May 3rd, 2009
04:43 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama likely to pick female nominee?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the very early stages of the selection process to replace Justice David Souter, Obama administration officials say there is a strong inclination to pick a woman, but stress there is no short list and the field of candidates is wide open.

The officials acknowledge the likelihood of a female pick stems in part from the fact that former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was not replaced by a woman so there is now just one female on the high court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, out of nine justices.

Rachel Brand, a veteran of the former Bush administration's Supreme Court selection process, said the general perception in legal circles is that Obama will nominate a woman for that reason.

"Or there is a strong expectation he will nominate a woman partly because Justice O'Connor was not replaced by a woman," said Brand. "That's not to say that he has to or even that he should nominate a woman. It's just what the political imperative seems to be right now."

Administration officials do not disagree with that perception, but stress that Obama is going to use overall qualifications for the job as the guiding principle – regardless of gender or race. That could mean winding up with a well-qualified man, similar to former President George W. Bush's selection of a Chief Justice.

"He's going to go with excellence, not unlike the previous President going with John Roberts," noted one Obama administration official.

Brand said the possibility of multiple Supreme Court retirements over the next few years could give Obama some flexibility in his first nomination.

"He may nominate a woman for this one and then the next time he may be freer to nominate whomever he wants, or he may decide that he should go with whoever the best candidate is irrespective of gender," said Brand. "But certainly the conventional wisdom is he will go with a woman.

Filed under: Supreme Court
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Simmy

    The Honorable Judge Janice Rogers Brown from CA,

    Her parents were sharecroppers....She pulled herself up by her bootstraps to become the person that she is today....

    She currently serves as an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, a position she has held since May 1996.
    She is the first African-American woman to serve on the State’s highest court, and was retained with 76 percent of the vote in her last election.

    In 2002, Justice Brown’s colleagues relied on her to write the majority opinion for the Court more times than any other Justice. Prior to her appointment and confirmation to the California Supreme Court, Justice Brown served from 1994-96 as an Associate Justice on the Third District Court of Appeals, an intermediate state appellate court.

    She too was and still is involved in the community....Check her out....

    May 3, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  2. Veritas

    As long as he picks the most liberal candidate possible, I don't care what gender or nationality his pick is. The further left the persons ideology, the more qualified the candidate in my view.

    May 3, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  3. Charlie in Maine

    You know, Obama would be losing one heck of a Sec. of State. But Hillary Clinton was a lawyer before the whole politics thing. Speaking of qualified women who would really tee-off the far right; What is Anita Hill up to these days? I don't think we should announce too soon let's let the right wingnuts stew a little first. And for God's sake make sure that he or she has paid their txes in full and on time.

    May 3, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  4. Biased

    This is THE most important court in the land – the final decision on all law. I am tired of hearing it should be a woman, or an African American or a Hispanic. I am tired of hearing the front runners are either fitting the qualifications above or seem to be from Harvard or Chicago. You know when it comes down to it, there is no recourse to change these SC decisions, I want the best person for the job. And the cries for someone who is sympathetic with normal people or knows what they suffer – I though justice was supposed to be blind and administered equally. Does this mean Obama wants different classes of people to be looked at differently under the law? Just give us the best person for the job whoever that might be with no other demands re ethnicity or gender.

    May 3, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  5. Jennifer

    William – exactly my thoughts. As a woman, it is insulting to me to have an important decision such as this made on the basis on sex – or race for that matter. Making decisions based on sex or race as simply racist and sexist.

    May 3, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  6. Gilley in PA

    There is already a woman on there, and a black guy. Time to put a gay in there. All reality shows have that one gay person and it's time to get up to speed.

    May 3, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  7. CNN watchdog

    Obama's Supreme Court checklist.
    1)....Abortion Stance

    Affirmative Action comes to the Supreme Court
    Maybe he can get William Ayers or Ward Churchill

    May 3, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  8. Mike, Syaracuse, NY

    This is the same brain dead mentality that led to picking Burris to replace Obama, because both are black. Race or gender should not be a factor, only qualifications should.

    May 3, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  9. WILL

    Why not appoint Sarah Palin to the Supreme Court?At least she has a rounded background in just about everything and a go-getter attitude.
    That's what we need, not someone because it just is suppose to be or this or that reason, just appoint sombody who will speak their mind. Chew on that!!!!!

    May 3, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  10. Reality Check

    It should be the best person for the job – not because a person is a woman or a minority. It should be a person who would uphold the law of the land and protect our country as our founders had intended!!!!

    May 3, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  11. Art

    How about Hillary Clinton???

    May 3, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  12. Johnny DC

    Typical Obama nonsense, putting history ahead of quality and deservedness. The Supreme Court isn't a one-in, one-out club for minorities or quotas. It's the highest honor bestowed upon an American judge, and it should be awarded as such. Leave it to this president to take the 250th best candidate because that person is a minority or female and it will poll better.

    May 3, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  13. scottrB

    Got to love watching the political talk shows on Sunday. Seems all the GOP are ready to say that any nominee that Obama might pick is too radical. They perfer someone with centered view and not someone to the left. Why didn't they say the same when Bush appointed Roberts to the post and as the Chief Justice, Hmmmmmmmmm, and the fact that he is younger and serving with a majority of conservitives makes me thin that the once proud GOP is scared the one thing they control is now in jeapority. I hope that Obama picks a female with views as his own, whom is young and will out live any GOP on the bench. I am growing very tired of the GOP of old who wants to control what we think, do and would like to do. We need a bench with thinkers of the 21st centry not those of old school from the south.

    May 3, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  14. How about picking Carrie Prejean.....

    afterall she has the exact same view on marriage being between a man and a woman as Obama does. Obama and Carrie Prejean are on the same page-so let's go with Carrie.

    May 3, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  15. mariel

    Obama is a smart person. A fair-minded professor of constitutional law. I'm sure he has already put much thought into this, and his choice will be as good as we could hope to get.

    May 3, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  16. Independent to the Max

    I am all for women on the bench but don't think we need to be politically correct about it. If the "best" (obviously a subjective term) candidates are all vetted and considered roughly equally qualified then go with a woman, but let's not ignore more qualified candidates just because they might be men. Sounds too obvious but unfortunately some folks would rather be PC than excellent.

    May 3, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  17. clay george

    My greatest hope is that President Obama would go with both race and gender when making his choice. That court should reflect the make-up of our society, and not look like the leadership of some American Corporation. Woman should make up half of the court, simply because of what they do for the country, our families, and for what they do for every aspect of our society. When will someone have the balls to admit that women are indeed the backbone of existance. Everywhere you turn a woman has played a major role in some process. They are smarter, and they are providers that the stay even when things get tough. I know I was raised by a single parent. My mother.


    May 3, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  18. Chipster

    The GOP has made it clear that it doesn't matter who Obama chooses. They plan to continue to "just say no" to anything, everything and everybody. What a bunch of ditto-heads! The GOP is rapidly becoming little more than a religious fanatic organization. Even corporate America is abandoning them because their "borrow and spend" policies have begun to boomerang. Entertainers like Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Coulter, etc. are the only ones still cashing in and laughing all the way to the bank.

    May 3, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  19. Rickymo

    Sonia Sotomayor will be the nominee and I trust Obama completed.

    May 3, 2009 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  20. wishing

    Fifty percent of the population;
    Fifty percent of the law school students;
    Fifth percent of the lawyers;
    yes, I would say a female nominee would be appropriate.

    If she were also of hispanic or asian descent, all the better.

    This isn't a call for quotas, rather a call for normal balance and representation.

    May 3, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  21. Doc

    In agreement with Blue in Maine. This was an important vote. The thought of relying on McCain and the forces that shackled him to Palin making this choice is nauseating. His pandering to the social conservative bloc and hard core neocons didn;t give a very rosey scenario of who would ride the bench for the next 20 odd years. More Scalia's, a man who couldn't recuse himself in deciding Cheney's case, even tho the two of them are friends and they hunt together, isn't what the country needs now. We need legal scholars, not egomanaical lecture circuit judges. If anyone ever legislated off the bench, it is Scalia. His time is almost over .....

    May 3, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  22. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Whoever he picks, make sure they have paid all their taxes!!

    May 3, 2009 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  23. Tom I.

    I'm supportive of a female or minority justice. It is important for people to feel that the Supreme Court fairly represents them. The days of when the Court is 9-0 male or 9-0 white are behind us. Same for 8-1. We certainly have enough well qualified female and minority judges to find an excellent nominee.

    May 3, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  24. Yossi Gestetner

    The left clames to be post-race, and bla bla bla. But when it comes to the next nominee, the main focus the left has given, is race and gender...

    I mean: can we pls focus on that person's abilty to interpert law, instead of color or gender?
    Btw, any Leftist who wants to get the job, should amend their recent tax filings...

    May 3, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  25. MDS

    I think Judge Ann Williams out of Seventh Circuit would be a wonderful choice.

    May 3, 2009 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
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