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September 2, 2009

Justice Stevens' clerk hiring can start next round of SCOTUS speculation

Even though new Justice Sotomayor has not yet even heard her first case, this new AP article seems sure to start a new round of Supreme Court transition talk.  Here's the lead: "Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has hired fewer law clerks than usual, generating speculation that the leader of the court's liberals will retire next year."  Because it makes sense for various reasons that Justice Stevens would decide to call it quits after the upcoming Term, I am sure this bit of news will prompt most everyone to begin to assume that President Obama will get another Supreme Court pick in 2010.

I think SCOTUS speculation might be especially dynamic and interesting this second time around because President Obama likely should and perhaps will feel less inclined to make a "safe" pick to replace Justice Stevens.  The first time around, President Obama's "short list" understandably was filled almost exclusively with women and minorities, and it seems he was also keen on nominating someone a judicial record.  With all those bases "covered" through his selection of Justice Sotomayor, and also with lots of notable academics working now in the Obama Administration, the realistic possibilities for a nomination this time around all but ensures that plausible "short lists" might grow to be very long.

Of course, all the big-time next justice speculation surely should wait until Justice Stevens actually indicates that he is going to retire.  But I doubt that it will.

Some recent and older posts on SCOTUS short-lists:

September 2, 2009 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

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Comments

If he is retiring, I think it is more likely that Stevens will wait until 2011, when there are no national elections.

Posted by: ward | Sep 2, 2009 1:30:22 PM

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