On the all-important question of who Barack Obama will name as Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement on the Supreme Court, J.E. Dyer served up some solid reasons yesterday why the president might elect to “go for it on fourth down,” so to speak. Rather than punt and choose a moderate like Indian-born Sri Srinivasan, Obama might try an end run around GOP “obstructionism” with “a lower-profile diversity hire. [G]etting Republicans to oppose a well-known black female in an election year could be street-agitation gold, and a boon for any Democratic presidential candidate.”
It turns out that J.E.’s ruminations have been entertained by some figures on the far left. One of them is Obama’s own mentor at Harvard Law School, Charles Ogletree, who appeared on Al Sharpton’s show on MSNBC, where he opined, “I think that President Obama should fill the seat. I know Republicans are having fits and I’m sure I’ll get negative press about this, but he should have the opportunity, as any president has, to appoint the successor, and that should be a woman, I think, a woman of color, I think, and there are a lot of people, and I won’t mention names because I don’t want to in a sense prevent anybody from being appointed, but I think President Obama should appoint somebody right away, and somebody who will fill that seat, and there will be five Democrats appointed by President Obama on the Supreme Court.” [Emphasis added]
(A video of Ogletree’s comments is available on Grabien via the blog No More Cocktails.)
This is not Ogletree’s first foray into the SCOTUS name game. In 2010, he was interviewed by the New Pittsburgh Courier, a publication by and for blacks, on Obama’s choice as a replacement for John Paul Stevens, who announced his retirement from the high court in April of that year. Said Ogletree, “I think that President Obama has an enormous task and a wonderful opportunity to find a person with the combination of talents that will help solidify a great choice. The fact of the matter is that you can look at profiles in Ebony Magazine or some of the women in Jet or Essence Magazine or just look at the National Bar Association, which has a contingent of Black women judges and lawyers, to see some of the stars we have who are not well known to a large extent, but clearly have every one of the qualities and qualifications necessary for the job.”
But what was perhaps even more noteworthy about the article, authored by the Courier editorial staff, was a suggestion tossed out in the lede:
President Barack Obama needs only to turn over in his bed to be reminded of all the Black women who are powerfully qualified to be U.S. Supreme Court justices.
If first lady Michelle Obama was not his wife, some legal scholars say she would be a clear and obvious candidate for the short list to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
Later in the piece, the writers enumerate Mrs. Obama’s qualifications. These include graduating from Harvard Law, like her husband, and mentoring him in an early job at the Chicago law firm of Sidley and Austin. The authors even cite a precedent for a president appointing a close relative to a high office in government, noting John F. Kennedy’s appointment in 1961 of his brother, Bobby, to U.S. Attorney General.
With Republicans lining up behind Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who affirmed on Saturday that the Senate will not vote on to fill the vacancy left by Scalia’s death until after the general election, Obama has little to lose by naming his wife to the high court. If by some quirk of fate, GOP Senate resolve were to falter, as it has so in so many nomination battles during the Obama presidency, the presence of a Justice Obama on the bench would be the outgoing president’s ultimate power grab.