Monday, April 12, 2010

A third woman on the U.S. Supreme Court

All signs are pointing to the idea that, for the first time in our nation's history, we may have three female justices serving on the U.S. Supreme Court at the same time, although the nominee I'm guessing President Obama will name is not the one I would prefer.

The President has just survived a bitter partisan battle over health care and the last thing he needs is another one. That's why I'm thinking he will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan (pictured). She is well qualified (the solictor general is often known as "the 10th justice") and,  because she has left virtually no paper trail, it would be almost impossible for the GOP to mount any kind of learned opposition. Not even Texas sentator John Cornyn could vote against this choice and retain any semblance of integrity. With this nominee, we would learn who the obvious obstructionists are in the Senate - those partisans who will oppose something not on ideological or intellectual grounds, but simply because it was proposed by a black President of the opposition party.

Kagan has a distinguished resume, highlighted by her tenure as dean of Harvard Law School during which time she was credited with attracting a stellar faculty to the school and maintaining harmony among that faculty. She should breeze to confirmation.

My choice, Diane Pamela Wood, a justice on U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Seventh Circuit and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, would likely stir far more debate and opposition. But I admire her, not only because she earned her undergraduate and law degrees from the Univeristy of Texas at Austin, but because of her opinions on on abortion, immigration and access to the courts. Judge Wood is the epitome of the person balancing career and family. When she began teaching at the University of Chicago law school in 1981, she was the only woman on the faculty, and she was eight months pregnant. She had three children in five years.

She also plays the oboe in three Chicago orchestras and her nomination would be music to my ears. However, I'm betting the choice is going to be Kagan. Regardles of which woman the President nominates, it will be a precedent-setting choice.

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