A Look Obama's Supreme Court Short List
Obama will have plenty of names from which to choose. While not an official “short list,” the following list of potential nominees is based on past nominations and discussions with sources, including government officials involved in the selections of Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan [Note: Eric Holder is not listed here, but should be added]:
Loretta Lynch, attorney general
The North Carolina native became the nation’s top law enforcement officer last year, after a bitter confirmation fight in the Senate. She served two stints as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, earning a reputation as a tough prosecutor in several high-profile financial and terrorism-related cases. Most recently in the AG role, she filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Ferguson, Mo., Police Department over what she called its unconstitutional violation of the rights of the largely minority community. If successfully nominated, the daughter of a Baptist minister and a school librarian would be the first African-American woman on the high court.
Judge Patricia Millett, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Millett was named in 2013 to a bench considered a stepping stone to the high court -- where four current justices once served. Formerly a private Washington-based appellate attorney -- Obama called her "one of the nation's finest"-- who also had more than a decade of experience in the U.S. Solicitor General's office, Millett argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court, the second-most ever for a female lawyer. Sources of both ideological stripes call her fair-minded, no-nonsense and non-ideological.
Judge Sri Srinivasan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Srinivasan was named to the court in 2013, months before Millett joined him. The son of Indian immigrants – who was born in India and raised in Kansas -- Padmanabhan Srikanth Srinivasan was the principal deputy solicitor general at the Justice Department, and argued more than two dozen cases before the Supreme Court. He would be the high court's first Asian-American. Known as low-key, practical and non-ideological, he may not excite many progressives, or give conservatives much to dislike.
Judge Paul Watford, 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
Watford was named to the appeals court in 2012. He clerked for conservative-libertarian federal Judge Alex Kozinski on the 9th Circuit, and later for liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Supporters call the Orange County, Calif., native an ideological moderate, which may not sit well with progressives seeking a stronger liberal voice.
Judge Jacqueline Hong-Ngoc Nguyen, 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
The Vietnam-born Nguyen was named to the court in 2012 after two years as a federal district court judge. She, too, would make history as the high court's first Asian-American justice. She is already the first Asian-American woman to sit a on a federal appeals court and is a former state judge, federal prosecutor and private attorney. She moved with her family to the U.S. when she was 10, just after the fall of then-South Vietnam to the Communists.
Kamala Harris, California attorney general
Harris was elected to her current job in 2010. Harris is a former San Francisco district attorney and author of "Smart on Crime." Her political savvy, ethnic background (part-African-American, part-Asian-American), law enforcement credentials and early support of Obama's candidacy make her a favorite for any high court vacancy.
Kathryn Ruemmler, former Obama White House Counsel
Ruemmler left her government position for private practice in spring 2014. She most famously helped lead the prosecution in the Enron fraud case in 2006. She earned high praise in the White House for helping spearhead the legal defense of Obama’s health care overhaul law. She also supervised the vetting for the Kagan and Sotomayor high court nominations, though she has no judicial experience.
Judge Jane Kelly, 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
Kelly is only the second woman to serve on the St. Louis-based court, appointed in 2013. She spent most of her legal career as a federal public defender in Iowa. One of her biggest fans is fellow Iowan Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Judge David Barron, 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
Confirmed in May 2014, Barron formerly served as acting assistant attorney general in Obama administration, then went to Harvard Law School as a professor. He clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens.
Judge Diane Wood, 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
Wood has sat on the bench since 1995. Twice a finalist for the high court vacancies in 2009 and 2010, she is considered a mainstream liberal and well-regarded by many legal analysts as a strong, articulate judge. She served in both the Reagan and Clinton Justice Departments.
Judge Merrick Garland, D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
Garland was a finalist for the high court seats that went to Sotomayor and Kagan, and is a possible compromise choice, considered a relative judicial moderate on the high-profile appeals court. Four current justices came directly from the D.C Circuit. Garland was a former associate deputy attorney general and supervised the criminal prosecution of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. His perceived "moderate" views may not sit well with some liberals.