President Obama has said he will push forward a nominee for deceased Justice Antonin Scalia “in due time,” and while some Republicans in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail see a delay on the horizon, legal minds are mulling the shortlist – which includes names like former Attorney General Eric Holder and current Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Yahooo! Politics reported the list of names currently being bantered about includes “Sri Srinivasan, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge for the District of Columbia circuits; Merrick Garland, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit; Attorney General Loretta Lynch; Neal Katyal, a Georgetown law professor who spent one year as Obama’s acting solicitor general; Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson; Solicitor General Don Verrilli; and former Attorney General Eric Holder.”
The news outlet also reported Obama’s mentioned to friends Patrician Ann Millett, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge for the District of Columbia.
Other legal minds said Obama’s particularly interested in finding a judge who can fill a specific role on the court. For instance, Dahlia Lithwick with Slate said on MSNBC Justice Sonia Sotomayor filled Obama’s quest for a sympathetic voice on the court; his pick of Justice Elena Kagan satisfied his desire to find a “uniter.”
Other analysts floated names like Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick; New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker; Ninth Circuit Judge Paul Watford; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobucher and California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Obama said in announcing Scalia’s death on Saturday: “I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time. There will be plenty of time for me to do so and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote. These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone.”
But some Republicans say, not so fast – the majority Republican-held Senate should hold up any Obama nominees.
Republican presidential primary front-runner Donald Trump suggested the Senate “delay, delay, delay,” while fellow White House hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz took it a step further and announced a planned filibuster.
“The Senate needs to stand strong and say, ‘We’re not going to give up the Supreme Court for a generation by allowing Barack Obama to make one more liberal appointee,” Cruz said, during the South Carolina debate.
And a day later, on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos, he said he would “absolutely” filibuster Obama’s picks, and that “this should be a decision for the people.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, said in a statement the American people deserve “a voice in the selection” of the incoming justice, and “therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
Holder, considered by some conservatives more a civil-rights activist than a champion of justice, said a year ago he had no interest in serving as a Supreme Court justice.
In July 2015, he said in an interview with the National Law Journal: “I greatly enjoyed my career in public service and I’ll stay involved in political life in some form or fashion, but in terms of my own career, I think this is my last stop. I’ll stay here at Covington [law firm] until I decide I’m not going to be a lawyer anymore.”
And when asked directly about an appointment on the Supreme Court, he said his response would be: “With all due respect, you need to pick somebody who’s a) younger and b) who’s a lot more interested.”
Both Jeh Johnson, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, and Lynch have also been slammed by those on the right for their perceived far-left policies – Johnson, for his lax regard for the border and immigration law and Lynch, most recently for her heavy-handed watch-dogging and prosecution of community police departments.