The President Has Narrowed Down the Choices to Three
Three men, no women, are on President Barack Obama's short list to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. All three are federal appeals court judges, Reuters reports.
The three are Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Judge Sri Srinivasan, also of the D.C. Court of Appeals, and Judge Paul Watford, of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
NPR, noting that the President was meeting with five judges under consideration earlier this week, describes the three top choices.
Garland, the oldest at 63, is also by far the most experienced, a moderate liberal, with a long history as a prosecutor prior to joining the appeals court in 1997. In 2013 he became chief judge of the appeals court. Widely respected, he has few political pluses for the president, as he is neither female nor a member of any minority group. In addition, he has a 19-year judicial paper trail for opponents to flyspeck. But he is highly regarded by Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals. Indeed, Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch helped secure his confirmation to the appeals court.
Judge Srinivasan, 49, worked in the solicitor general's office in both the Bush and Obama administrations. Obama nominated him to the D.C. Appeals Court in 2012, and he was confirmed a year later by a vote of 97-0. He has less than a three-year judicial record, which in confirmation terms can be a plus, as now-Chief Justice John Roberts learned when he was nominated to the high court. Srinivasan was born in India and came to the U.S. with his parents as a child; if nominated, he would be the first Supreme Court nominee of South Asian descent.
Judge Watford, 48, was confirmed for a seat on the 9th Circuit in 2012 by a 61-34 vote, garnering both Democratic and Republican votes. In his three years on the court, he has earned a reputation as a smart and careful jurist; indeed, two of his opinions — one a dissent and one a majority opinion — were ultimately vindicated by the Supreme Court last term. If he were nominated and confirmed, he would be the third African-American to serve on the nation's highest court.
Last month SCOTUSblog's Tom Goldstein wrote Watford was the most likely pick, then amended that to put Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the top. Since then, Lynch has made clear she does not wish to be considered, effectively putting Watford back at the top of the list.
All three judges are considered moderates. It's unknown when the President will make the announcement. It's also unclear the Senate will even consider the nominee.