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Friday round-up

Today’s coverage focuses on the White House’s confirmation that President Obama has added several new candidates to his “short list” of potential nominees to succeed Justice Stevens.  The Huffington Post and the WSJ Law Blog report that the President is now considering Ann Claire Williams, the first African-American judge appointed to the Seventh Circuit, also noting that the Reagan appointee and former third-grade teacher has been largely overlooked by political observers until now.  USA Today’s Joan Biskupic observes that many of the contenders have deep professional ties to President Obama, having worked alongside him at the University of Chicago Law School or in the current administration.

JURIST reports that on Wednesday, President Obama also made clear during a meeting with Senate leaders that he would seek to replace Justice Stevens with a candidate whose constitutional interpretation would emphasize individual rights, particularly the rights of women.  The Associated Press also has coverage of President Obama’s comments during the meeting, while Michael Gerson at the Washington Post’s Post-Partisan column criticized the “wink and nod” the President delivered to the Senators when he promised not to employ a litmus test on the issue of abortion while simultaneously affirming that he would nominate a candidate committed to reproductive rights.  And at the Washington Times, Valerie Richardson predicts that reproductive rights will become a hot-button issue in this summer’s nomination process.

Also on Wednesday, the President spoke individually with Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.  Hatch has already voiced his support for possible nominee Elena Kagan, whom he called a “brilliant woman” during a radio interview last year.  Senator Patrick Leahy has also commented on his conversation with the President Wednesday; according to the Burlington Free Press, telling reporters after the meeting that “it would be irresponsible if [the Senate] didn’t have the nominee in place before the August recess.”  Some Senate Republicans, however, are prepared to filibuster a nominee, and The Hill recalls the Senate minority’s use of a filibuster against judicial nominees in 2004 – and the “Gang of 14” agreement that emerged, which permits filibusters of judicial nominees only in “extraordinary circumstances.”  At the New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg also reports on President Obama’s conversations with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about the upcoming confirmation process.

At the Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin predicts that Democrats, channeling anger over the U.S. economy and public sentiment against the Court’s Citizens United ruling, will endeavor to “put the court itself on trial” during this summer’s confirmation process.  And at the Washington Post, Carol Leonnig speculates that, if President Obama nominates D.C. Circuit judge Merrick Garland to succeed Justice Stevens, Democrats – rather than Republicans – will be most likely to criticize his record.

Although the nomination process dominated today’s news, several media outlets reported on the Court’s regular proceedings as well.  Looking forward, the New York Times reports on next week’s upcoming argument in Monsanto Co. v. Geerston Seed Farms – which, according to the Times, could modify the threshold for challenges under the National Environmental Policy Act.  The Times also reports, in a second article, that the Court in its private conference today will consider another environmental case, this one addressing an invasive species of Asian Carp that has begun to move from the ecosystem of the Mississippi River Basin into the Great Lakes.


  • An editorial at the Seattle Times argues that the sexual orientation of Justice Stevens’ successor is, in short, “none of our business.”
  • At the Washington Post’s Post-Partisan blog, Ruth Marcus advocates for term limits for Supreme Court Justices, writing that, although Justice Stevens is a counter-example, many on the Court have lingered “past the point of productivity.”
  • Writing for the Christian Science Monitor, Peter Grier points out that the Court has not always had nine Justices – since the late 1700s, Congress has modified the size of the Court at least six times.
  • In a piece at Concurring Opinions, Danielle Citron recaps a forthcoming Vanderbilt Law Review article on Justice Louis Brandeis’ view that intellectual privacy was crucial to the protection of free speech.