There is very little concrete information about whom the president is considering as a Supreme Court nominee.  There were reliable reports that the administration was vetting Brian Sandoval, Nevada’s Republican governor, and is vetting federal district judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.  The word “vetting,” however, does not suggest that either was the presumptive nominee or even under particularly serious consideration.

Beyond that information, the broad stroke of comments by the president (including in his post for this blog) and other administration officials is that the nominee will be highly qualified and will have previously received substantial Republican support.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, a person who was deeply involved in prior Obama nominations believes based on that prior experience that the nominee almost certainly will be a federal appellate judge.

It is easy to identify the candidates who (i) serve on a federal court of appeals; and (ii) received unanimous Republican support in the confirmation process.  By culling based on a few other criteria – such as academic background, age, and length of experience on the appellate bench – we identified this list of five candidates, in alphabetical order:

Hon. Gregg Costa, who serves on the Fifth Circuit.  His name was put forward for that seat by Texas’s two Republican senators.  Previously, he was a district judge in the Southern District of Texas.  He was confirmed to that position by a vote of ninety-seven to two.  After law school, he clerked for two Republican appointees.  After graduating from college, he participated in the Teach for America program.

Hon. Jane Kelly, who serves on the Eighth Circuit.  Her nomination to the court of appeals received the support of the Republican chair of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Charles Grassley.  Previously, she was a public defender.  She attended Harvard Law School, where she was a classmate of the president.

Hon. Cheryl Krause, who serves on the Third Circuit.  Previously, she was a federal prosecutor.  She was a law clerk to two Republican appointees.  She attended Stanford Law School.

Hon. Raymond Lohier, who serves on the Second Circuit, succeeding Sonia Sotomayor.  Previously, he was a federal prosecutor and worked in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.  He is of Haitian descent.  He graduated from Harvard College and NYU Law School.

Hon. Sri Srinivasan, who serves on the D.C. Circuit.  Previously he was the Deputy Solicitor General in the Department of Justice.  He clerked for two Republican appointees.  He attended Stanford Law School, where he also received an M.B.A.  He was born in India.

Three judges on the Eleventh Circuit easily could appear on this list of serious candidates from the courts of appeals, although I consider them somewhat less likely for various reasons.

Hon. Adalberto Jordan was confirmed to the Eleventh Circuit by a vote of 94-5. He previously served as a district court judge, confirmed 93-1.

Hon. Jill Pryor was unanimously confirmed to the Eleventh Circuit.

Hon. Robin Rosenbaum was unanimously confirmed to the Eleventh Circuit, and previously served as a district judge (confirmed 92-3) and worked as a prosecutor.

In the coming days, we will be publishing profiles of all five.

Posted in Featured, The potential nominees to succeed Justice Scalia

Recommended Citation: Tom Goldstein, Five potential nominees from the federal appellate bench, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 1, 2016, 4:22 PM),