Supreme Court Justice Stevens to retire; Is Klobuchar really on short-list?

WASHINGTON — Several publications have mentioned Sen. Amy Klobuchar as a short-list candidate to fill the next vacancy on the Supreme Court. Now we’ll find out if that’s true— Justice John Paul Stevens, the eldest justice and leader of the Court’s liberal bloc, has told the president he intends to retire this summer.

Quick points on this, which will be followed up on many times over the coming days, weeks and months:

  • Stevens leads the liberal bloc despite being appointed by President Ford (a Republican). Politically, the Court is seen to tilt slightly to the right, with four on the left, four on the right and one (Anthony Kennedy) in the center-right.
  • The person President Obama nominates as Stevens’ replacement is unlikely to change that balance.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been mentioned on various media short-lists to fill that vacancy, though she’s not believed to be among the top tier.
  • In fact, National Journal put out a short list this morning (before the retirement was made known) that included Klobuchar in its “other possibilities” category. She’s said in recent weeks that she’s happy with the job that she has.
  • A knock on Klobuchar’s candidacy that has nothing to do with her: The White House might not want to risk losing a Democratic seat in the Senate by way of Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty appointing her replacement.
  • Whether she’s nominated or not, Minnesotans will play a huge role in the confirmation process. Both Klobuchar and Sen. Al Franken are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which vets candidates before they go to the full Senate.
  • Don’t forget: This is an election year. Recent battles haven’t centered on qualifications, but on whether a nominee is “too far” to the left or right. The Senate is more polarized today than it has been in recent memory. Democrats no longer have a filibuster-proof majority.

Will have much more on this as it develops.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 04/09/2010 - 02:52 pm.

    With all the broken campaign promises of Senator Amy K., she would be a perfect fit on the liberal side of the Supreme Court.

  2. Submitted by chuck holtman on 04/09/2010 - 04:15 pm.

    To the point: Let us not allow hometown boosterism to keep us from agreeing that Senator Klobuchar is not an appropriate candidate. Beyond insufficient relevant experience, she is a born politician and has found her place. That is very different from the qualities desired in a good appellate judge. Off the point: Can we try not to simply repeat cliches that don’t make the slightest bit of sense? The court “tilts slightly to the right, with four on the left”?! Mr. Wallbank, please define “right” and “left” in this context. The present court is a hard Right court, with three justices committed to a radical statist authoritarianism, one that will punish the individual whenever possible to purge his own demons, and three more that always will side with concentrated private (corporate) power against the individual. There is no “balance.” If the “middle” is defined as the line that separates the court into two halves, that becomes a bit of a tautology, no? Stevens is a traditional business conservative with a decent respect for civil liberties, and on a balanced court would be seen as just that.

  3. Submitted by William Pappas on 04/12/2010 - 05:51 am.

    A others have pointed out the political climate has shifted so far to the right (in spite of democratic majorities) that despite Obama’s appointments the court will end up more conservative than when he inherited it. One thing is for sure Mr. Gotzman, no one will be nominated that is as willing to change settled law and the constitution as the “purveyor of privlage”, Chief Justice John Roberts. Republican cries of desiring a strict constructionist are now more hypocritical and dishonest than ever before. Stop the charade and admit it.

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