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Thursday round-up: Part I

Commentators continue to discuss the so-called “short list” of potential successors to Justice Stevens.  Bill Mears at CNN reports that President Obama is expected to announce his nominee by early May and that Elizabeth Warren is “now getting much less scrutiny than some of the favorites,” while  Dominique Pastre at Fox News reports that the administration continues to expand the list and vet new candidates.  The Ninth Justice also discusses recent developments on the “short list.”  At NPR, Nina Totenberg reports on the week’s changes to the list of potential nominees, while Bob Egelko at the San Francisco Chronicle reviews the “juicy” judicial record of Sidney Thomas and notes that the judge’s solidly liberal writings make him a long shot at best for the position.

Attention also focused on the individuals mentioned as “short listers.”  Adam Liptak of The New York Times reviews Kagan’s stint as Solicitor General – which, he posits, “provides unusually direct insights into how she would interact with her new colleagues.” Liptak notes that although Kagan “tangles regularly with Chief Justice Roberts,” she seems to have a good rapport with the justices.”  At the Huffington Post, Linda R. Monk discusses Kagan’s success at Harvard Law at uniting an ideologically divided faculty and concludes that she could be “another Earl Warren” with the “ability to unite the Court in seminal decisions on divisive social issues.”  At the Boston Globe, Michael Kranish and Alan Wrizbicki cover the increasing criticism – even from the left – of Kagan’s lack of a judicial record.  They note that the White House has been providing reporters with background information about Kagan in an effort to rebuff these “unfair and uninformed” attacks.

Other commentators highlighted the political backdrop to the confirmation process.  At the Ninth Justice, Kirk Victor speculates as to how Senator Specter – who voted against Kagan’s confirmation as Solicitor General – might vote should President Obama nominate Kagan to the Court.  Also at the Ninth Justice, John Mercurio writes that “Supreme Court fights are more motivating to the right than the left,” and he predicts that Republicans struggling to unite will “reward the leader who puts up the most aggressive, and effective, voice of dissent.”  In an opinion piece at the Washington Post’s PostPartisan blog, Stephen Stromberg reports on Senator Lindsay Graham’s warning that a contentious confirmation process could affect the Senate’s passage of a climate-change bill.  Stromberg concludes that it is important to separate the two issues so that “fence-sitting lawmakers aren’t encouraged to apply any disappointment…over Obama’s nominee to the energy debate.”  Finally, at TIME, Katy Steinmetz wonders “whether ‘confirmability’ has, more than ever following the draining health care fight, become the quality that will supersede all others in terms of who Obama chooses.”

In a talk with law students at Duke University, the AP reports that Justice Breyer offered advice to the eventual nominee, recommending that he or she “listen to senators’ questions and try not to get clever with their answers” in an effort to be successfully confirmed.

On the subject of diversity, in a post at the Opinionator blog of The New York Times, Timothy Egan notes that with Justice Stevens’ departure, the remaining eight justices all attended either Harvard or Yale Law Schools, and he urges President Obama to choose a nominee from outside of these two institutions. In an opinion column at the L.A. Times, Michael McGough downplays the significance of a Supreme Court without a Protestant justice, writing that “Protestants…are not marginalized” in American society and that “Protestant-Catholic-Jewish differences are less important that divisions in the culture wars that transcend denominational lines.”  He also suggests that a meaningful “diversity” selection might be a nominee that did not attend an Ivy League school.  Finally, in an op-ed at the Washington Post, George Will notes that though no sitting justice has served in elected office, the need for dramatic judicial intervention is sufficiently rare that there is only a “slight need to select politically experienced judges.”  Instead, Will argues, the most important quality in this nominee will be their “engag[ement] in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty.”