Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dr. Brian Leiter on Why Obama's Choice is Janet Napolitano

Dr. Leiter makes a convincing case for why President Obama's choice to replace Justice Stevens will be Janet Napolitano, the current Secretary of Homeland Security. His reasons from Brian Leiter's Law School Reports:
1. She's a she.

2. She's a Protestant, replacing the last remaining Protestant on the court.

3. She's not yet another Yale/Harvard, "inside the Beltway" nominee, who has done nothing but be a judge or DC lawyer or law professor. She has political experience, as well as prosecutorial experience.

4. She's not an East Coast insider either--she's a "real" Westerner. Geographic diversity!

5. Like Kagan, but unlike Wood (and Garland), she could easily serve 25 or more years on the court given her current age.

6. She has the strong support of the two Republican Senators from Arizona, which will help neutralize Republican opposition.

7. She was confirmed without opposition to her current post--and that wasn't long ago.

8. She's a solid Democrat, but not obviously a liberal--there's little ammunition for the crazy right. She even put people to death as a prosectur in Arizona!

9. She's politically skilled, and, esp. with the support of the Arizona Senators, could likely win over other Republicans.

10. She doesn't have the baggage of Kagan or Wood. In the case of Wood, a long judicial record creates lots of fodder for the right-wing kooks. In the case of Kagan, she has limited experience (she is no John Roberts), a somewhat odd academic career (tenured at Chicago, but then unable to get hired back to the faculty after leaving the Clinton Administration; a visiting stint at Harvard led to an appointment, which was then followed by a successful Deanship, but she's had a relatively limited scholarly output); and even her nomination as Solicitor General produced more than 30 'no' votes in the Senate.
Like Dr. Leiter, I cannot imagine that President Obama would waste a substantial amount of political capital on a nominee whom Republicans will simply not accept. Secretary Napolitano seems to be a safe pick.


  1. Hey - do you know what happened to clurker/lawclerkaddict? The site seems to have been abandoned since January. Given your prior involvement there, I thought you might know what's up. Thanks!

  2. @ 1:07 --

    Earlier this year, we teamed up with LawClerkAddict for our Judicial Clerkship Series, and cross-posted some of our clerkship-related articles on the site. However, we do not have much insight on its current status. That said, I do believe that Clurker, et. al are gearing up for the 2011-12 cycle fairly soon.

  3. Thanks for the response. Your cross-posted content was a nice addition to the site. As for 2011-12, I'll keep an eye out for an update on the LCA site.

  4. Looks like Brian Leiter is wrong again!


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